Rijiju as SC Puts Sedition Law on Hold

Shortly after the Supreme Court on Wednesday put on hold the application of sedition law, union law minister Kiren Rijiju said there should be a “Lakshman Rekha” guiding different institutions, including the executive and the judiciary, and said no one should cross their “boundary”.

Commenting on the top court’s directions, Rijiju said, “We respect each other. The court should respect the government, the legislature, so as the government also should respect the court. We have a clear demarcation of boundary and that ‘Lakshman Rekha’ should not be crossed by anybody.”

On May 9, Rijiju had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had directed that the provision of the sedition law be re-examined and reconsidered and the government will “suitably” take into account the views of stakeholders and ensure the sovereignty and integrity of the country is preserved while looking into Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code. Rijiju had said he feels that it is a “bold” step taken by the government and that making laws is the government’s responsibility.

Weighing in on the SC’s directions, Rijiju in a way invoked Chief Justice NV Ramana, who on April 30 had highlighted the significance of ‘Lakshman Rekha’ while addressing chief justices of the high courts and chief ministers. He had told the governments that “the judiciary would never come in the way of governance if it is in accordance with law”.

In a significant order on the controversial sedition law, which has been under intense scrutiny, the apex court said while the government reviews the law, those in jail can approach courts for bail. A bench headed by CJI Ramana stayed all proceedings in sedition cases while directing the Centre and states to not register any fresh FIR invoking sedition charges until the sedition law is “under reconsideration”.

The bench, also comprising justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, said there was a need to balance the interest of civil liberties and the interests of citizens with that of the State. Noting the central government’s concerns, the apex court said the rigours of Section 124A of the IPC is not in tune with the current social milieu and permitted reconsideration of the provision.

(With PTI inputs)

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