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Editorial

ET EDIT-Apex Court Should Curb Misuse of Sedition

October 10, 2019 05:20 AM

 COURTESY ET EDIT OCT 10

It is welcome that the police have reportedly closed the sedition case it had filed against 49 writers and artistes who had written to the prime minister expressing concern over frequent incidents of lynching in the country. However, this does not take away from the urgent need for the Supreme Court to take suo motu action against judicial officers who frame a charge of sedition against people in facile disregard of the apex court’s express clarification that sedition subsists only when there is a call to proximate violence for overthrow of the State. The court arrived at this conclusion after going into Constituent Assembly debates on a proposal to include sedition as a restriction on the freedom of speech guaranteed as a fundamental right. After a thorough and extensive discussion, in which it was pointed out that Section 124A had been added to the IPC to act against Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the Constituent Assembly decided against including sedition as a restriction on what citizens were free to opine. Should a Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) be free to ignore this repeated and considered opinion of the highest court of the land? After the CJM of Muzaffarpur thought it fit to frame the charge of sedition against 49 people for writing a letter to the prime minister, 185 more luminaries from the cultural world, including writer Ashok Vajpayee, singer T M Krishna and painter Vivan Sundaram, have written to the PM expressing concern over mob violence and facile invoking of Section 124A of the IPC. It is vital to put an end to the practice of the police and the lower courts together slapping sedition charges on people on whimsy, not merely conclude one particular case. The apex court should penalise errant officials who flout its oft-repeated view on when to invoke sedition.

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