Supreme court to hear plea challenging sedition law on May 10
The batch of petitions criminalizing section 124A was considered by the 3-judges bench of the supreme court comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant, and Justice Hima Kohli. The petitions were filed by the Army Veteran Major-General SG Vombatkere and the Editors Guild of India, Former union minister Arun, TMC MP Mahua, Journalist Anil, PUCL, journalists Patrica and Anuradha Bhasin and journalist union of Assam. On Thursday, the bench decided to consider preliminarily whether a reference to a larger bench is required as a decision of 5 judge bench in Kedar Nath of 1962 had retained the section after reading it down. To Hear a preliminary argument on the issue of reference to a larger bench, the bench posted the matter on 10th May at 2 PM. On the issue of reference, the bench asked all the parties to file their written submissions by Saturday. When the matter was raised, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta seeks time for filling the counter-Affidavit of the centre.
SG Tushar stated that from the lawyer's side the draft is ready and it is awaiting the approval of the competent authority. CJI submitted that we along with another bench issued the notice almost 9-10 months so there can’t be any problem to hear the matter. In response, SG said that -It would be inappropriate for me to argue without the central government record. CJI further asked about the Prima facie view of the central government. SG said that the issue will have to be debated between the government and advisors. The bench further moved back to the Attorney general KK Venugopal, to whom notice was issued separately prior. Tushar Mehta said that the attorney general will assist and the central government will have to file its counter. The Attorney-general said before the bench that – Yesterday, somebody was detained under this section because they wanted to chant Hanuman Chalisa therefore guidelines have to be issued to prevent its Misuse, further he said that- Kedar Nath Judgement is a well-considered judgement so it is not necessary to refer it to the larger bench. The bench at this point turned to the petitioner’s side on the matter of reference. Senior advocate Kapil Sabil, appearing for the petitioners submitted that the issue can the decision without referring to the Kedar Nath, such reference is not necessary. Kedar Nath was decided in the era of Ak Gopalan when the verdict on article 21 came in the AK Gopalan case where all fundamental rights were seen as separate silos.
Further, he said that – There has been a sea-change in the fundamental rights jurisprudence after the Judgement of RC Cooper case where rights are seen as connected forming part of a single fabric. He asserted that- In the light of the subsequent developments in the fundamental rights jurisprudence, 3 judges’ bench can go into the issue ignoring Kedar Nath. Justice Surya Kant mentions that- many petitions have sought the consideration of the Kedar Nath case. Justice Surya Kant asked to give a single instance where a 3 -Judge bench struck down a law which has been by a 5-Judge Bench. In response, Senior Advocate Gopal appearing in another petition stated before the bench that In the Lily Thomas case, a 2-judge bench struck down section 8(4) of the representation of peoples Act on the ground that some new aspects were not considered, despite approved by the 5-judge bench earlier. Sibal propounded that there are precedents where smaller benches have differentiated larger bench decisions. Sibal further urged that – The mistake made is Kedarnath is confused between the state and the government. The days spent by a journalist or by a student in jail for criticizing the government are against 19(1)(a). We are living in an independent country and are not the subject of the crown. He quoted the line that mahatma Gandhi said about the Sedition offence It is my right to create disaffection against the government. The Solicitor General stated that in Adhar's case the petitioner raised similar arguments as raised by Sibal now and yet the matter was referred to a 9-judge bench. The bench at the end decided to examine the preliminary issue on reference.
Tags : #delhi #supremecourt #leaders #Section-124A #constitution