Supreme Court Says There's A Need To Put Limits On Sedition Law
The Supreme Court twice in a day flagged the use of sedition law and underscored the need to examine the way the provision is invoked against the media.
While hearing petitions by two Andhra Pradesh-based news television channels, a top court bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud observed that it is time to put limits on sedition.
The tv channels had moved the top court after an FIR was registered against them under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including 124A that deals with sedition.
We are of the view that the provisions of 124A and 153 require interpretation, particularly on the right of press.Supreme Court of India
The top court barred any coercive action against the two channels for now. Earlier in the day, the same bench, while hearing a case suo motu on essential supplies during the pandemic, discussed a news video circulating on social media that showed bodies of suspected Covid-19 victims being dropped into a river.
The bench said it hoped the news platform was not booked for sedition already. The court, however, later clarified that the comment was made keeping in mind the Andhra Pradesh case, listed to come up after the Covid-19 matter.
India's colonial era sedition law has triggered a public debate over its recent use by authorities, government and police, to quell dissent. Some legal experts including retired judges of the top court have called for striking it down.
In a separate petition pending before the top court, two journalists have challenged the constitutional validity that a 1962 judgment that had upheld the validity of the sedition law. The petition argues that the provision is no longer applicable, especially keeping in line with the global developments regarding the law of sedition.
Six decades ago, the top court had upheld the validity of the sedition provision but added safeguards to determine its use.