By Payal Mehta
New Delhi [India], May 11 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave directions that the controversial sedition law will be on hold till the government reviews it and those in jail can approach courts for bail.
Speaking after the apex court order, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju told ANI that the government made its position very clear before the court and informed it of the intention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"We've made our positions very clear and also informed the court about the intention of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We respect the court and its independence. But there's a 'Lakshman Rekha' (line) that must be respected by all organs of the state in letter and spirit," Rijiju said.
"We have to ensure that we respect the provisions of the Indian Constitution as well as existing laws," he added.
Government sources said that the top court's decision in the matter of putting a hold on sedition cases is a reflection of the mindset of the Modi government.
"Today's judgment shows that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a masterstroke. The judgment extensively quotes the affidavit of the Central Government where unequivocal views of the Prime Minister against colonial laws are quoted. It is the Government of India's view which forms the very basis of the Supreme Court's order. The Supreme Court also accepts the concerns of the Central Government regarding security interest and the concern raised by the Central Government about the integrity of India in Para 6 of the judgment," a source said.
Sources said the Supreme Court records the example given by Attorney General for India where one MP and one MLA in Maharashtra were imprisoned under sedition by the Maharashtra Government after they announced decision to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside the residence of the state Chief Minister.
The sources said the Supreme Court has not stayed the provision of sedition as wrongly claimed by some sections but has merely expressed its "expectations" that no person will file FIR for sedition" till the Central Government reconsiders the provision.
They said para 8 of the order which contains the Supreme Court's directions categorically states that in "view of the clear stand taken by the Union of India, we deem it appropriate to pass the following order".
The government sources said that the "order passed is based upon the stand of union government".
"The Central Government has placed a draft of proposed directives before the Supreme Court which MHA will issue to the state governments to prevent any misuse of sedition law. The court has accepted the same proposed draft in toto as mentioned in clause [e]. When the Central Government itself said that sedition is colonial baggage which needs to be done away with, the court has stayed trials where individual offence alleged in the FIR is only sedition," the source added.
The Solicitor General, keeping in mind other serious cases where sedition can be one of the offences along with other serious offences, had pointed out that other such cases where other offences are also involved should be allowed to proceed. This request of the Solicitor General has also been accepted, the sources said.
In other words, in cases like the Bhima-Koregaon case, Sharjeel Imam's case, where other offences are also among the charges, the matters will proceed, the sources said.
They said it is clear that the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru merely delivered a lecture against sedition as back as 1951 while PM Modi "made a masterstroke with a far-reaching and forward-looking decision" which has been accepted by the Supreme Court.
The government has also taken various steps to remove the outdated colonial laws and has scrapped over 1,500 laws since 2014-15. (ANI)