Two days after defending the country’s colonial-era sedition law and asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the pleas challenging it, the government on Monday did an about-face, saying it has decided to re-examine and reconsider provisions of the law.
In a new affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the centre said, “In the spirit of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav (75 years of Independence) and the vision of PM Narendra Modi, Government of India has decided to re-examine and reconsider the provisions of Section 124A, Sedition law.”
The government urged the Supreme Court to wait for the review before deciding on the case based on a clutch of petitions filed by the Editors’ Guild of India and others.
Concerned by the widespread misuse of the sedition law, targeting critics of the governments at the centre and in states, the top court in July last year had asked the union government why it was not repealing the provision used by the British to silence people like Mahatma Gandhi.
On Saturday, the centre had defended the sedition law and a 1962 verdict of a constitution bench upholding its validity, saying they have withstood “the test of time” for about six decades and the instances of its abuse would never justify reconsidering it.
A bench of three judges comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, on Thursday, had said that it would on Tuesday hear arguments about sending the pleas challenging the law on sedition to a larger bench for reconsidering the 1962 verdict of a five-judge constitution bench in the Kedar Nath Singh case.