Supreme Court puts sedition law on hold, says no new case till further orders

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed all proceedings in sedition cases and directed the Centre and states to not register any fresh FIR invoking sedition charges until the government re-examines the colonial era penal law.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said all pending cases, appeals and proceedings with respect to charges framed for sedition should be kept in abeyance.
The SC bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said those already booked under Section 124A IPC and in jail could approach competent courts for appropriate relief and bail.
It also said that any relief granted to the accused will continue.
This is the first time in 162 years that the operation of provision of Section 124A has been suspended. The apex court said the Union government is free to issue additional directions to the states.
The top court will now hear the pleas challenging the validity of sedition provisions in the third week of July. By then, the Centre would have the time to undertake the exercise to re-examine the provision.
Earlier during the hearing, the Centre told the court that it cannot prevent police from registering a cognizable offence under sedition provision, but said an FIR under Section 124A would be registered only if area superintendent of police (SP) is satisfied that facts of a case involves sedition offence.
With regard to pending sedition cases, the Centre suggested that hearing on bail pleas in such matters may be expedited as the government did not know the gravity of offence in each case and they may have terror or money laundering angles.
“Ultimately, pending cases are before judicial forum and we need to trust courts,” the law officer told the bench which also comprised justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.

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