Journalists Patricia Mukhim and Anuradha Bhasin Move SC Against Sedition

Unless the impugned provision is deleted from the IPC, it will continue to "haunt and hinder" the full realization of the right to free speech and the freedom of the press, the plea says.

sedition
Image: LawDocs

Adding to the list of petitions challenging the constitutional morality of Sedition under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, journalists Patricia Mukhim and Anuradha Bhasin have moved a petition to the Supreme Court.

The petition has claimed sedition has been used to intimidate, silence, and punish journalists, has continued unrestrained and the lived experience of the last six decades to an irresistible conclusion that unless the impugned provision is deleted from the IPC, it will continue to “haunt and hinder” the full realization of the right to free speech and the freedom of the press, Live Law reported.

The plea has mentioned that Sedition must be struck down as being ultra vires Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.’That the three-tier categorization of the punishment for the offence of sedition, ranging from life imprisonment to fine simpliciter, without any legislative guidance for sentencing, amounts to granting unbridled discretion to judges, which is hit by the doctrine of arbitrariness and violates Article 14,’ the plea says.

It is also stated that the issue of words like hatred, disaffection, disloyalty, etc. are incapable of precise construction, and are hit by the doctrine of vagueness and overbreadth, thereby falling foul of Article 14 of the Constitution.

Previously, an SC bench, headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana and comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy had expressed concern over the “enormous misuse” of the colonial era penal law and noted that, ‘the sedition law is a colonial law and was used by the British and to suppress our freedom’ and stated that it would examine the constitutional validity of the sedition law.

Meanwhile, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties had called the provision ‘repressive’ and moved the court. Along with that, former Union Minister Arun Shourie also moved to SC challenging sedition. The plea was filed by Advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of former Union Minister Arun Shourie and an NGO named Common Cause.

Read More: Arun Shourie Challenges Validity of Sedition Law in Plea to SC

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