Supreme Court issues notice in journalists’ plea challenging constitutional validity of sedition

The petition claimed that sedition exerts an unacceptable chilling effect on the democratic freedoms of individuals.

ByNL Team
Supreme Court issues notice in journalists’ plea challenging constitutional validity of  sedition
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The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice in a plea challenging the constitutional validity of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which penalises the crime of “sedition,” LiveLaw reported.

The three-judge bench of Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph were hearing a plea which prayed that Section 124A be declared unconstitutional and void, and be struck out of the Indian Penal Code.

The plea was filed by Kishorechandra Wangkhem and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla, journalists from Manipur and Chhattisgarh, respectively. The plea said that they had been raising questions against their respective state and central governments, and were charged with sedition in various FIRS for comments and cartoons shared by them on Facebook.

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Their plea argued that Section 124 infringes the right to freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under the Constitution. It claimed that the restriction imposed by sedition is, therefore, unreasonable and "no longer passes constitutional muster today", LiveLaw reported.

The plea also pointed out alternative legislations like the UAPA, the Public Safety Act, and the National Security Act, whose provisions deal directly with the overt conduct that sedition seeks to make penal. Therefore, the petitioners argued, there is no urgency justifying the employment of charges of sedition.

The plea noted the frequent "misuse, misapplication and abuse" of Section 124A, which point to the law's "vagueness and uncertainty", LiveLaw said, and that charges of sedition "throughout the democratic world...has been condemned as undemocratic, undesirable and unnecessary".

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