New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Centre on Tuesday faced tough questions from the Supreme Court after it was asked whether all sedition cases across the country could be kept in "abeyance or on hold" till government completes a review of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Court (IPC). The Centre has been given time till Wednesday to submit its response.

"We have perused the affidavit by the respondent (Central government). Meanwhile, to protect the interest of the people already booked under 124A as well as the future of this provision, SG will take instructions whether cases can be kept in abeyance till further time till reconsideration is over," said a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana, as reported by Bar and Bench.

This comes a day after the Centre made a U-turn and said it has decided to "re-examine and re-consider" the sedition law by an "appropriate forum". In its affidavit, the Union Home Ministry said the decision falls in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's opinion that the "colonial baggage" needs to be shedded.

"The PM believes that at a time when the country is marking 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' (75 years since independence), we need to, as a nation, work even harder to shed colonial baggage that has passed its utility which includes outdated laws, colonial laws and practice," it said.

This was a U-turn from the Centre as it had earlier defended the sedition law and the 1962 verdict of a Constitution bench upholding its validity. In its written submission on May 7, the Centre had said the sedition law has withstood "the test of time" for nearly six decades.

"Instances of the abuse of provision would never be a justification to reconsider a binding judgment of the Constitution bench. The remedy would lie in preventing such abuse on a case-to-case basis rather than doubting a long-standing settled law declared by a Constitution bench for about six decades," it had said.

A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli on May 5 had said it would hear arguments on May 10 on the legal question of whether the clutch of pleas challenging the sedition law be referred to a larger bench for reconsidering the 1962 verdict of a five-judge constitution bench in the Kedar Nath Singh case.

The top court, in 1962, had upheld the validity of the sedition law while attempting to restrict its scope for misuse. It had held that unless accompanied by incitement or a call for violence, the criticism of the government cannot be construed as a seditious offence.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma