Wednesday 25 May 2022
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Modi takes U-turn on sedition law

After defending the Supreme Court ruling on the British-era sedition law last week, the union government told the highest court today it was revising its position, and the law minister said the prime minister wanted this revision

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A week after defending the Supreme Court’s re-reading of the British-made sedition law during Jawaharlal Nehru’s era, the Narendra Modi government wants to soften its stand on the issue at the highest court of the country, anarchists erupting in different parts of the country under the present regime notwithstanding. The prime minister has asked for a re-examination of the provision of sedition law, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju told news agency ANI today.

The prime minister has asked for the removal of the “obsolete” sedition law, Rijiju said. “The government will suitably take into account views of the stakeholders and ensure that the sovereignty and integrity of the nation are preserved while re-examining and re-considering the law on sedition,” the law minister said.

The union law minister’s statement comes hours after the Modi government told the Supreme Court that it had decided to reconsider and re-examine the sedition law. In its affidavit, the union government urged the apex court to wait for the outcome of the exercise and not proceed with the hearing on the petition.

The Modi government in its affidavit said that Prime Minister Modi had expressed clear and unequivocal views in favour of protecting civil liberties and showing the nation-state’s respect for human rights and believed that outdated colonial laws had no place in the country celebrating its 75th year of independence.

On 30 April, Prime Minister Modi at a rare joint conference of chief ministers and the chief justices of high courts had urged the chief ministers to nix the laws that “had become irrelevant for the common citizens”.

“A serious topic is also the intricacies of law for the common man. In 2015, we identified about 1,800 such laws which had become irrelevant. Out of these, among the laws of the centre, we abolished 1,450 such laws. But only 75 laws have been abolished by the states,” the prime minister had said.

However, given the work in this field so far under two Modi governments, it appeared that the laws that this union government wanted to be removed were largely civic laws restricting businesses and the movement of people made in the British era. So far, state governments, in consultation with the Niti, were removing these restrictions on markets and other public places.

Last week, the Modi government had defended the sedition law in the Supreme Court, stating that the 1962 verdict of the five-judge constitution bench case, which had upheld the validity of sedition under Section 124A of the is binding and continues to be a ‘good law and needed no reconsideration’.

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