Supreme Court dismisses plea challenging sedition law, says can't be challenged unless there is cause for petition

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking a direction to declare Section 124-A of Indian Penal Code as ultra-vires of the Indian Constitution. Section 124-A provides for punishment for the offence of sedition.

The bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice V. Ramasubramanian observed that the law cannot be challenged unless there is a cause of action. 

During the hearing, Advocate Anoop George Chaudhari, appearing for the petitioner, said Section 124-A of IPC has been misused while seeking an alternative relief that directions be issued to strictly follow the judgement of the Constitution bench in this regard.

Chief Justice Bobde questioned,

“What is your cause of action, unless there is a cause of action you cannot challenge a law. There is no case of sedition against you. In Kusum Ingots case, it has been laid down that you cannot challenge a law unless there is a cause of action.”

Advocate Chaudhari responded that the present matter is one of public interest, and directions need to be issued to police to follow the Court's ruling in Kedar Nath and Balwant Singh cases. “This is a PIL filed by three lawyers. We have made an alternate prayer as well. We can make an affected person a party, give us some time,” he said.

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Dismissing the case, the bench said that it will look into the matter when there is a cause of action.

The plea, filed by Advocates Aditya Ranjan, Varun Thakur and V. Elenchezhiyan, stated that a colonial provision like Section 124-A which was intended to subjugate subjects of the British Crown should not be permitted to continue in a democratic republic, under the continuously expanding scope of fundamental rights.

The petitioners have further averred that the sedition law is indiscriminately and unlawfully being used against journalists, women, children, students and other persons against the interpretation given by the Apex Court.

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The petitioners' alternate prayer had sought a direction to the Government to instruct their respective Heads of Police and DGPs to ensure the law as set forth by the Supreme Court in the Kedar Nath case and Balwant Singh case are strictly followed.