New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will commence the final hearing on pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the sedition law on May 5. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana also directed the Centre to file its response to the pleas after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought two days to file a reply.

"Solicitor General sought two days to file a reply. We direct the Centre to file a reply by end of this week. Reply to that affidavit to be filed by Tuesday. List the matter for final disposal without any adjournment on May 5, 2021," the apex court said in its order.

"We will have a hearing on May 5. We will have full-day hearings," the bench, which also included Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli, said.

The pleas have been filed by the Editors Guild of India and Major General (Retired) SG Vombatkere. The pleas challenged the constitutional validity of the sedition law on the ground that it causes a "chilling effect" on speech and is an unreasonable restriction on free expression, a fundamental right.

"The tendency of the British to ensure complete allegiance and compliance of the Indian citizens not only in action but also in thought is blatantly evident from the evolution of the law on sedition," it stated.

"It is relevant to note, however, that the Indian courts have largely crusaded against regarding every unpleasant word as 'actionable', championing the cause of the media," it added.

What is sedition law in India?

Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deals with sedition in India, which is a non-bailable offence. It was drafted by Thomas Babington Macaulay and was included in the IPC in 1870.

Sedition is a non-bailable offence and it can lead to imprisonment between three years to life term.

"Whoever, words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine," Section 124A of the IPC states.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma