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Supreme Court adjourns plea challenging validity of sedition law to July 27

The petitioners have prayed to declare the impugned section unconstitutional and void as the restriction imposed by this section is an unreasonable one that does not constitute a permissible restriction in terms of Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

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The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned its hearing to July 27 in a plea challenging the validity of Section 124A of sedition law in India. The court has in April issued notice on the plea for reconsidering 1962 Kedar Nath ruling on 124A.

The division bench of Justices UU Lalit and Ajay Rastogi while hearing the matter on Monday granted two weeks time as per the request made by the Attorney General for India, K K Venugopal and Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta for filing their responses in the compliance of the notice issued in the previous hearing.

The present petition is filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.

The petitioners have contended that Section 124A clearly infringes the fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India which guarantees that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.

The petitioners are journalist by profession and have been charged with sedition in various FIRs for comments and cartoons shared by them on the social networking website Facebook. Petitioner No. 1 has been charged with sedition for criticising political leaders and petitioner No. 2 has been charged with sedition for sharing a cartoon.

They have prayed to declare the impugned section unconstitutional and void as the restriction imposed by this section is an unreasonable one that does not constitute a permissible restriction in terms of Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

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The petitioners have further submitted that this issue has come before the Supreme Court in 1962 where the validity of the section was upheld. The Apex court in Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar (1962) held that Section 124-A imposed a reasonable restriction on Article 19(1)(a), falling within the ambit of Article 19(2). The central tenet of the petitioners’ argument is that while the Supreme Court may have been correct in its finding nearly 60 years ago, Section 124-A no longer passes constitutional muster today.

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