Attorney General R. Venkataramani on Monday told the Supreme Court that the Centre is in the process of reviewing criminal laws during the hearing on a clutch of petitions challenging Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises sedition.
The AG submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit that something may happen in the winter session of the Parliament and there is no need to worry about the interim order in place. He requested additional time be granted to the Centre so that appropriate steps may be taken.
The bench, also comprising Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi, asked whether a directive has been issued by the Centre to put in abeyance all pending proceedings and also to prevent any fresh filing of cases under Section 124A. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that directions regarding the same were sent to all Chief Secretaries.
Counsel, representing one of the petitioners, submitted that order says all pending trials with this section has to be kept in abeyance and the section needs to be struck down or else this order will continue indefinitely. To this, the AG said let the matter come after the Parliament session.
The top court, in its order, noted that the AG submitted that in terms of the directions issued by this court in its order on May 11 this year, the matter is still engaging the attention of the relevant authorities.
It said that AG has assured that in view of the interim directions issued by the court, every interest and concern stands protected and as such there would be no prejudice caused. After hearing arguments, the bench scheduled the matter for further hearing in January 2023.
The top court was hearing a clutch of petitions challenging Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises sedition.
On May 11, the SupremeACourt said it is cognizant of the integrity of the state on one hand, and the civil liberties of citizens on the other, as it put on hold the colonial-era penal provision of sedition. The apex court also asked the Centre and state governments to refrain from registering any FIRs under the sedition provision, Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, till review of the law by Centre is complete.
The top court order came on a batch of pleas filed by Major General S.G. Vombatkere (retd) and the Editors Guild of India and others, challenging the constitutional validity of Section 124A which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.