Former Union Minister Arun Shourie has challenged the validity of the Sedition Law i.e. Section 12A of the IPC as it violates Articles 14 and 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
The plea was filed by Advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of former Union Minister Arun Shourie and an NGO named Common Cause. The plea states that though the provision was upheld by the Supreme Court in Kedar Nath v. State of Bihar in 1962, the position of law has changed since then, and the matter requires reconsideration.
The plea also stated that a statute criminalising expression based on vague definitions of ‘disaffection towards Government’ etc. is a restriction on the fundamental right to free expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and causes a “Chilling Effect’ on speech.” “Mere advocacy and discussion which is protected under Article 19(1)(a) has been made punishable under Section 124 – A of Indian Penal Code.” Additionally, it stated that the law has been heavily abused with citizens being arrested for simply exercising their freedom of speech.
In an earlier hearing of the Supreme Court, a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) stated that if you look at the history of the use of this section, there is misuse of power by the executive agencies. “The use of sedition law is like giving a saw to a carpenter to cut a piece of wood and he uses it to cut the entire forest itself.”- As per the CJI.
The court then asked the Centre if it is time to do away with the sedition law citing the law as a threat on institutions and individuals. Attorney General, K K Venugopal said that strict guidelines on its working will suffice the purposes.