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On the validity of the Sedition Law, the Centre seeks time from the Supreme Court to respond

The Centre has asked the Supreme Court for more time to respond to a slew of petitions challenging the constitutionality of colonial-era sedition law.

On April 27, a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli asked the Central government to file a reply, stating that the final hearing on the issue will begin on May 5 and that no motion for delay would be entertained.

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The Centre stated in a court plea that while the draft of the affidavit is available, it is seeking confirmation from the responsible authorities. In its most recent ruling, the Supreme Court stated that eminent attorney Kapil Sibal will lead the petitioner’s arguments challenging the legality of Section 124A (sedition) of the IPC in the case.

Concerned with the widespread abuse of the criminal code on sedition, the Supreme Court questioned the Centre in July last year why it was not deleting the clause used by the British to muzzle persons like Mahatma Gandhi in order to suppress the independence struggle.

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The Supreme Court agreed to hear the petitions brought by the Editors Guild of India and retired Major-General SG Vombatkere contesting the constitutionality of Section 124A (sedition) of the IPC, saying its major concern was the “misuse of law” that was contributing to an increase in the number of cases.

The non-bailable clause makes any statement or expression that incites or seeks to incite hate or contempt for the government constituted by law in India a criminal offence punishable by a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

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While issuing the notice on the petitions in July last year, the Supreme Court alluded to the alleged abuse of the clause and questioned if the “colonial-era law was still required after 75 years of Independence.”

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