The Union government has told the Supreme Court that it has decided to re-examine and re-consider the sedition law in spirit of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' and the Prime Minister's "unequivocal views" in favour of protection of civil liberties and to shed colonial baggage.
It said the top court need not invest time examining the validity of the Section 124A once again, rather wait for the exercise of reconsideration to be undertaken by the government before an appropriate forum where such reconsideration is constitutionally permitted.
The government agreed that concerns have been expressed about application of the law and its abuse not intended under the statute.
In an affidavit, the Ministry of Home Affairs said the Prime Minister has been cognisant of various views expressed on the subject and has also periodically, in various forums, expressed his clear and unequivocal views in favour of protection of civil liberties, respect for human rights and the constitutionally cherished freedoms to the people of the country.
“The government of India, being fully cognisant of various views being expressed on the subject of sedition and also having considered the concerns of civil liberties and human rights, while committed to maintain and protect the sovereignty and integrity of this nation, has decided to re-examine and re-consider the provisions of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code," the Ministry said in its three-page response.
"The exercise, however, can only be done before the competent forum," it added, in reply to a batch of petitions questioning validity of the provision for violating the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.
The Ministry also said the government has scrapped 1,500 outdated laws since 2014-15, and also ended over 25,000 compliance burdens which were causing unnecessary hurdles to the people.
The court has fixed Tuesday for hearing a clutch of petitions filed by Major General (retd) S G Vombatkere and the Editors Guild of India and others, challenging the constitutional validity of Section 124A of the IPC, which carries life imprisonment as the maximum sentence.