New Delhi: Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday said in Lok Sabha that the Ministry of Home Affairs has no proposal under consideration to scrap Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) dealing with sedition.
He also said that “the question of law” regarding Section 124 A is pending for adjudication before the Supreme Court.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs has informed that there is no proposal under consideration to scrap Sec 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Further, the question of law regarding Section 124A is pending for adjudication before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India,” he said in a written reply.
According to Section 124 A of the IPC, “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in [India], shall be punished with [imprisonment for life], to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”
Responding to a question by Assam MP Badruddin Ajmal on whether the Supreme Court has recently termed the sedition law as colonial and has made an observation that it is being misused, and whether the apex court has directed Government of India to submit its response on necessity and validity of this law, Rijiju said “No such observations have been found in any judgment or order delivered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.”
However, he said, in a writ petition, the top court has observed that the “ambit and parameters of the provisions of Sections 124A, 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 would require interpretation, particularly in the context of the right of the electronic and print media to communicate news, information and the rights, even those that may be critical of the prevailing regime in any part of the nation”.
Rijiju said the apex court, in a writ petition (criminal) issued notice to the Union of India, wherein the petitioners have made a prayer before the Supreme Court for an appropriate writ, order or direction declaring Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 to be unconstitutional and void.
“Upon hearing the matter, the Hon’ble Supreme Court vide order dated July 12, 2021 has granted time for filing written submissions and counter affidavit in the matter on behalf of the Union of India,” he said in his written reply.
He also noted that in a writ petition (civil), the Supreme Court, upon hearing the matter, has issued notice to the Union of India.
“The Writ petition (Civil) No. 682/2021 has been tagged with other matters wherein similar question of law has been raised and are pending for consideration before the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” Rijiju noted.
The minister was also asked in the same question whether the government is planning to strike down or amend “this provision” (Sec 124A).