SC seeks Centre's response by end of the week on pleas against sedition law

PTI  | Deccan Chronicle

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Three-judge bench said it would commence the final hearing in the matter on May 5 and would not entertain any request for adjournment

The Supreme Court of India. (ANI File Photo)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to file its response by the end of the week on a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the sedition law.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said it would commence the final hearing in the matter on May 5 and would not entertain any request for adjournment.

“We direct the Centre to file reply by end of this week. Reply to the affidavit be filed by Tuesday. List the matter for final disposal without any adjournment on May 5,” the bench said.

The top court also noted in its order that senior advocate Kapil Sibal will lead the arguments from the petitioner's side in the matter.

During the hearing, senior advocate Sanjay Parikh said the plea filed by PUCL has not been listed.

The bench then said, Do you want to solve the issue or all petitions to be listed? If you want to delay it it is on you."

Concerned over the enormous misuse of the colonial-era penal law on sedition, the top court in July last year had asked the Centre why it was not repealing the provision used by the British to silence people like Mahatma Gandhi to suppress freedom movement.

Agreeing to examine the pleas filed by the Editors Guild of India and former Major-General S G Vombatkere, challenging the Constitutionality of Section 124A (sedition) in the IPC, the apex court had said its main concern was the "misuse of law" leading to rise in number of cases.

The non-bailable provision makes any speech or expression that brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India a criminal offence punishable with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.