Rejecting the Centre’s argument that trials like sedition should continue in courts as charges like terror could be involved, the Apex Court today ordered that the contentious sedition law will be on hold as the government reviews it and those in jail can approach courts for bail. Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, shortly after the historic order, said while he “respected the court and its independence”, there is a “Lakshman Rekha” that cannot be crossed.
Speaking to reporters, the law minister said: “We’ve made our positions very clear and also informed the court about the intention of our PM (Prime Minister Narendra Modi). We respect the court and its independence. But there’s a ‘Lakshman Rekha’ that must be respected by all organs of the state in letter and spirit. We have to ensure that we respect the provisions of the Indian Constitution as well as existing laws.”
“We respect each other, the court should respect government, legislature, so as government should also respect court. We have clear demarcation of boundary and that Lakshman Rekha should not be crossed by anybody,” Rijiju said.
The union minister, while he made the sharp remarks, evaded a question on whether he believed the Supreme Court’s decision was wrong.
The Supreme Court today ruled that the sedition statute be put on hold while the administration completes its assessment. Those who are already facing sedition accusations can seek bail from the courts.
“The Union of India will reconsider the law. The petitioners say the law is being misused. The Attorney General had also mentioned the sedition charge filed in Hanuman Chalisa case. It will be appropriate not to use this provision of law till further re-examination is over. We hope and expect that centre and state will desist from registering any FIR under 124A or initiate proceeding under the same till re-examination is over,” said Chief Justice NV Ramana.
If any fresh cases are filed, those charged can approach the court. “The Union of India is at liberty to pass directives to states to prevent misuse of the law,” the Chief Justice added.