After the Supreme Court’s historic decision to put the controversial sedition law on hold, Minister of Law and Justice of India Kiren Rijiju made a contentious remark saying while he “respected the court and its independence”, there is a “Lakshman Rekha” that cannot be crossed.
The Apex Court on Wednesday rejected the Centre’s argument that such trials should continue in courts as charges like terror could be involved. Although it has allowed the government to re-examine and reconsider the provisions of Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises the offense of sedition.
Reacting to the order, union minister Kiren Rijiju said “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‘ that must be respected by all organs of the state in letter and spirit. We have to ensure that we respect the provisions of the Indian Constitution as well as existing laws.”
“We respect each other, the court should respect government, legislature, so as government should also respect the court. We have a clear demarcation of boundary and that Lakshman Rekha should not be crossed by anybody,” Rijiju added.
When asked if he was unhappy with the Supreme Court’s decision, the minister evaded the question.
While putting on hold the colonial-era law currently being reviewed by the Centre, the Apex Court said that the court’s job is to create a balance between civil liberty and sovereignty of the state.
The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana said, “It will be appropriate not to use this provision till further re-examination is over. We hope and expect the Centre and state will refrain from registering any further FIRs under Section 124a (sedition). All pending proceedings to be kept in abeyance.”
The court further said that the Central government can direct state governments to prevent the misuse of the law. New cases should be disposed of while those arrested under this law can apply for bail.
It is a historic order. A law that even the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was booked for once during the colonial era.