SC to examine fresh plea challenging constitutional validity of sedition law

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to examine a fresh plea by Mysuru-based Major General S.G. Vombatkere challenging the constitutional validity of Section 124A (sedition) of the IPC with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

A bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising of Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy told advocate P.B. Suresh, representing the petitioner, to serve a copy of the petition to the Attorney General. The bench will conduct hearing on the matter on July 15.

On July 12, another bench of the Supreme Court had sought response from the Centre and Attorney General on a plea challenging the constitutionality of the offence of sedition under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.

A bench comprising Justices U.U. Lalit and Ajay Rastogi was hearing a writ petition filed by two journalists, each from Manipur and Chhattisgarh, challenging the constitutionality of the offence of sedition. The top court had issued notice to the Attorney General (AG) on the petition on April 30. During the hearing on Wednesday, AG K.K. Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, urged the top court to grant two weeks to file their responses. The bench granted them two weeks’ time and adjourned the matter for further hearing on July 27.

The main writ petition, filed through Advocate Tanima Kishore and drawn by advocate Siddharth Seem on behalf of the petitioner journalists Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla, argues the impugned section clearly infringes the fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India which guarantees that “all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression”.

“The restriction imposed by the section is an unreasonable one, and therefore does not constitute a permissible restriction in terms of Article 19(2) of the Constitution. Hence this petition is filed to humbly pray that Section 124-A be declared unconstitutional and void by this Hon’ble Court and be struck out of the Indian Penal Code”, said the plea.


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