Sedition a colonial law, was used to silence Mahatma Gandhi: Supreme Court

The top court said that it had two problems with the law- the misuse of the law and the accountability of the agencies using it. 

The Supreme court on Thursday made an important comment on the controversial Sedition law, calling it a “colonial law” that held “enormous power” for misuse. The Chief Justice of India(CJI), NV Ramana questioned the necessity of the law after over 75 years of independence. It is a colonial law that was used by the Britishers to silence Mahatma Gandhi, the court noted.

On Thursday, a CJI led three-judge bench was hearing the petition of an ex-army officer that questioned the validity of Section 124-A which deals with the charge of sedition. The top court said that it had two problems with the law- the misuse of the law and the accountability of the agencies using it.

The bench observed that the sedition law had an enormous power of misuse. Chief Justice NV Ramana compared the effect of the controversial law to that of a carpenter with a saw who cuts down the entire forest instead of wood.

The Supreme Court also expressed its concern over accountability with regard to the law. “Once you see Section 124-A in FIR, everyone gets scared,” it said.

The bench of Justices NV Ramana, AS Bopanna, and Hrishikesh Roy also said that the conviction rate under the law was very low throughout its history. The SC said that there were multiple petitions challenging the sedition law and they would be heard together by the court

The petitioner in the case, Major-General (Retd) SG Vombatkere, said that the law was unconstitutional and had a “chilling effect” on free speech. In his petition, he called for the sedition law to be struck down.

Meanwhile, the top court also asked for the central government’s response to the petition.

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