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[Sedition Challenge] Supreme Court Bench assembles

Sedition Challenge Supreme Court Bench assembles

Solicitor General : I have prepared a proposed draft direction to be issued by the Central Govt keeping in mind that a cognizable offence cannot be prevented from being registered

SG : Once there is a congizable offence, either the Govt or the Court by an interim order, staying the effect may not be a correct approach. Therefore, we have said there has to be a responsible officer for scrutiny, and his satisfaction is subject to judicial review.

SG : As far as pending cases, we don't know the gravity of each cases, may be there is a terror angle, or money laundering. Ultimately, the pending cases are before judicial forum, and we need to trust the courts.

SG : What your lordships can consider is, if there is a stage of bail application involving Section 124A IPC, the bail applications may be decided expeditiously.

SG : Apart from this, to pass any other order to stay the provisions upheld by a constitution bench may not be correct approach.

Sibal : This is wholly unacceptable to us.

SG : Also to be noted, no accused is before the Court. To entertain in a PIL may be a dangerous precedent.

SG : At the moment we’re not considering if Kedar Nath is good or bad law, but if due to sea change in law 124 A is constitutional or not, and if it isnt, it can be stayed.

Justice Kant : According to them, the pre-registration FIR scrutiny should go to the Superintendent of Police. According to you, who should it go to?

Sibal : It should be struck down?

Justice Kant : Pls don't argue in air. Can we strike it down today?

Justice Kant :  According to you, who should be a fair and impartial authority to scrutinise registration of FIR?

Sibal : It should go to nobody. During the interregnum period, it should be stayed.

Justice Kant : It can’t be struck down today. Pls answer

Sibal:  My submission is your lordships should prima facie stay it.

Judges are having a discussion.

Sibal : We never came to the Court to ask stay of Section 124A. It only happened because the other side...

Justice Kant : There is a subsequent development..we are only exploring a viable solution during the interregnum.

SG: We cannot undermine respect for judiciary.

CJI : Mr Mehta, we are aware of that..

Sedition : Centre opposes staying Section 124A IPC. Proposes that future FIRs under Section 124A IPC will be registered only after scrutiny by Superintendent of Police.  As far as pending cases are concerned, courts can be directed to expeditiously consider bail.

Centre tells SC that it cannot prevent police from registering a cognizable offence under sedition provision, but says an FIR under Section 124A would be registered only if area Superintendent of Police (SP) is satisfied that facts of a case involves sedition offence.

Solicitor general says pending sedition cases can be reviewed, pending re-examination of the provision by the Centre, for early grant of bail to those booked under Section 124A IPC.

Petitioners' counsel Kapil Sibal said Section 124A has become prima facie unconstitutional and that the SC must stay application of the sedition provision till the Centre or SC reviews the provision's legality.

SC bench of CJI N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli counter Sibal by asking him - "What is this argument of striking down the provision? Can it be struck down today." Sibal says prima facie the provision is unconstitutional and it's operation should be stayed.

Before reserving order on the interim arrangement relating to Article 124A, the benhch told Sibal that it was only looking for an answer as to what should be done until the government completes re-examination of the sedition provision.

The SC is likely to pass interim order in a while from now. SG, Sibal and other counsel waiting for the order in the CJI's Courtroom.

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