“Is it necessary after 75 years of independence?”: Chief Justice of India questions relevance of sedition law

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Chief Justice of India NV Ramana has questioned the relevance of the controversial sedition law decades after India attained freedom from the British occupation. Hearing a petition filed by a former armed forces officer, CJI Ramana asked Attorney General KK Venugopal to examine the petition for striking down Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises the offence of sedition.

 

CJI Ramana, according to Livelaw, asked the AG, “This dispute about law is concerned, its colonial law, meant to suppress freedom movement, used by British to silence Mahatma Gandhi, etc. still is it necessary after 75 years of independence?”

When Venugopal said that the issue has to be decided, CJI Ramana said, ” I’m indicating what I am thinking.”



The Supreme Court Bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy is hearing a petition filed by army veteran Major-General SG Vombatkere (Retired), challenging the constitutional validity of the controversial sedition law.

CJI Ramana said that the alarming numbers of ‘misuse of provision can be compared to a carpenter using a saw to cut a tree but the entire forest.’

The Bench said, “The gravity of the situation, if some states, a particular party doesn’t want to hear the voice, they will make this law, to implicate other groups of people.”

The CJI reminded AG Venugopal that the petitioner sacrificed his whole life for the protection of the country. “We can’t say this is any motivated litigation,’ he added.

BJP-led governments across India have had to face criticism for implicating people critical of their policies under the sedition law. Once arrested under the sedition law, people have been forced to languish behind bars without any trial for months.