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Sedition Law Was Used by All Govts for Political Gains: Petitioner Vombatkere

Sudhir Vombatkere is a retired army general who has been at the forefront of the fight to scrap the sedition law.

Published
Law
2 min read

Reporter: Eshwar

Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui

Senior Editor: Vakasha Sachdev

“This (sedition law) has been used by all governments to further their political aims,” said Major General Sudhir Vombatkere in conversation with The Quint.

Vombatkere is a retired army general who has been at the forefront of the fight to scrap the sedition law.

Vombetkere, in his petition, filed in the Supreme Court, contended that “a statute criminalising expression based on unconstitutionally vague definitions of ‘disaffection towards government’ etc is an unreasonable restriction on the fundamental right to free expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and causes constitutionally impermissible ‘Chilling Effect’ on speech.”

Supreme Court's Interim Order

An apex court bench led by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana on Wednesday, 11 May, ordered a temporary suspension of the implementation of the colonial-era sedition law.

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The top court said that it would be appropriate "to put the provision (sedition) on abeyance" and to "not use this provision till further re-examination of the sedition law is over," and until further orders:

  • Urged the central and state governments to refrain from registering any FIR invoking Section 124A of the IPC (sedition)

  • Ruled that if any fresh case is registered, the appropriate parties are at liberty to approach courts for relief

  • Said that those who have already been booked under the sedition law and are languishing in jails can approach the courts for bail

  • Directed that all appeals and proceedings under Section 124A be kept in abeyance

Govt Made a U-Turn, SC a Mature Decision: More From What Vombatkere Said

Speaking to The Quint about the contentious colonial-era law, the former army general said that he thinks the interim order was given “because the government made a U-turn.”

“Up till 8 May, they (the government) were strongly defending the sedition law, and suddenly they made a U-turn saying that we are going to review the law and there is no need for the court to continue with the examination of the law.”

“That, in fact, caused the petitioners to ask for a stay on the law, pending the review by the government of the sedition law, since the solicitor general did not give a timeline within which it would be reviewed,” Vombatkere said.

He expressed that he doesn’t know if dubbing the judgment “historic” may be an overstatement, but added:

“The court made a mature decision, because putting a blanket stay on the law would have been an interference with the executive.”

According to Vombatkere, it is clear that the government itself is not happy with the sedition law.

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