The Centre Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it would send guidelines, if approved, to the states and union territories for preventing abuse by ensuring that the FIR in sedition cases would be registered only after a superintendent of police rank officer is satisfied with the merits of the allegations.
The response was filed and read over by the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to a bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
The bench, while agreeing to the Centre
s submission that its appropriate forum would re-examine and reconsider the colonial-era law, had asked the government on Tuesday to apprise it about the stand on protecting the citizens interests in pending and future sedition cases.
“An FIR involving the Section 124A will be registered only if an officer not below the rank of Superintendent of Police is satisfied and records his satisfaction in writing that the offence alleged involves Section 124A as analysed by the Supreme Court in the captioned judgement(Vinod Dua case),” the solicitor general, referring to the proposed draft directions, said.
The law officer, on the suggestion of putting the provision in abeyance, said the registration of the FIRs for the offence of sedition cannot be prevented as the provision dealt with a cognisable offence which has been upheld by a Constitution Bench in the Kedar Nath Singh judgement of 1962.
With regard to pending sedition cases, the Centre suggested that hearing on bail pleas in such matters may be expedited as the government did not know the gravity of offence in each case and they may have terror or money laundering angles.
“Ultimately, pending cases are before the judicial forum and we need to trust courts,” the law officer told the bench which also comprised justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
The draft guidelines, which were to be issued by the union home secretary to the “Chief Secretaries/Administrators /Advisers to Administrators of all States/UTs and DGPs and Delhi Police commissioner, expressed concern over the abuse of the provision.
“The Union of India is concerned about the instances of registration of sedition cases against citizens of the country in cases when the facts do not justify the registration and the invocation of the said provision under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code,” it said.
It is important to note that the said provision is under re-consideration of the Government of India as per the Affidavit, the draft said.
It asked the states and UTs to “scrupulously” follow and adhere to the observations of the top court in the Vinod Dua case.
However, the guideline on following the judgement while registering the FIRs has lost the force for the time being as the top court decided to put in abeyance the provision till the Centre concludes the exercise of reconsidering the law.
The top court said additionally, the Centre shall be at liberty to issue the Directive as proposed and placed before us, to the states, and UTs to prevent misuse of the provision.
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