SC Refers Batch of Pleas Challenging Validity of Sedition Law to Constitution Bench of At Least 5 Judges

GG News Bureau

New Delhi, 12th Sept. The Supreme Court referred a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the colonial-era provision of sedition under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to a constitution bench of at least five judges on Tuesday.

A bench led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud denied the Centre’s request to adjourn the referral to a larger bench as Parliament is in the process of re-enacting the penal code provisions.

The bench, which also included Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, asked the apex court registry to present the papers to the CJI so that an appropriate administrative decision can be made for the formation of a bench of “at least five judges.”

The Supreme Court had on May 1 deferred the hearing on these pleas after the Centre had said it was at an advanced stage of consultation on re-examining the penal provision.

On August 11, in a landmark move to overhaul colonial-era criminal laws, the Centre had introduced in the Lok Sabha three bills to replace the IPC, CrPC and the Indian Evidence Act, proposing among other things the repeal of sedition law and introducing a new provision with a wider definition of the offence.

On May 11 last year, the top court had put on hold the penal law on sedition till an “appropriate” government forum re-examined it and directed the Centre and states to not register any fresh FIR invoking the provision.

Besides the lodging of FIRs, ongoing probes, pending trials and all proceedings under the sedition law across the country will also be in abeyance, the top court had said.

The law on sedition, which provides for a maximum jail term of life under section 124A of the IPC for creating “disaffection towards the government”, was brought into the penal code in 1890, a full 57 years before Independence and almost 30 years after the IPC came into being.

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