A plea had been filed before the Supreme Court stating that Section 124-A of the Indian penal Code is ultra-vires of the Constitution. The plea was filed by Advocates Aditya Ranjan, Varun Thakur and V. Elenchezhiyan. They contended that Sedition law, i.e., Section 124-A of the IPC has been increasingly used to curb the fundamental rights that are guaranteed under Article 19(1) and 21 of the Indian Constitution; right to freedom of speech and expression and right to life and personal liberty. This has a ‘chilling effect on democracy.’ In recent times, many activists and journalists have been arrested under this law, leading to its ‘indiscriminate and unlawful use.’ The petition claimed that this was in clear defiance of the Apex Court’s interpretation of sedition law, and Articles 19(1) and 21.
The petition stated that democratic principles have evolved, section 124-A of IPC which is a relic of the colonial era is still stifling the freedom of speech and expression
in India and threatening the life and liberty of citizens of India if they choose to express dissent against policies of the Governments in power. The petitioners represented by Advocate Sanjay Kumar Pathak referenced the Supreme Court decision in the case of Balwant Singh v. the State of Punjab (1995) which was that merely shouting slogans did not amount to sedition. The petition also cited the landmark judgement of Shreya Singhal v Union of India wherein it was held that
“speech should be considered as a whole in a free, fair and liberal spirit, the plea states that the police across the country is picking a part of the speech or expression to invoke section 124-A against the citizens, that too, without examining the proximate and direct nexus of the act.”
Decision of Supreme Court
The Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde turned down the PIL. The 3-judge bench comprising of Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanuim in addition to the CJI dismissed the plea stating that there is no cause of action and none of the petitioners was affected b the said law. The Court observed that a plea cannot be entertained without proper cause of action while turning down the petition. The Court referred to the Kusum Ingots case while stating that
“But we don’t have a case before us of persons rotting in jail. You come before us in a concrete case.”
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