The Supreme Court on Monday issued a direction to all the authorities concerned that sedition and defamation laws cannot be invoked by governments against critics and political dissidents.
The court, while disposing of a petition filed by NGO Common Cause alleging misuse of the sedition law, said to follow the Constitutional bench judgment in Kedar Nath v State of Bihar (1962), which limited the scope of Sedition Law (Section 124A) in India.
“Someone making a statement to criticize the government does not invoke an offence under sedition or defamation law. We have made it clear that invoking of section 124(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (sedition) requires certain guidelines to be followed as per the earlier judgement of the SC,” the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice UU Lalit said.
The apex court’s observation came as Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for an NGO, said sedition was a serious offence and the law on it was being grossly misused for stifling dissent. He cited the recent incident of Amnesty India getting slapped with harsh sections after ‘anti-India’ slogans were raised during one of its events in Bengaluru.