In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday ordered that the controversial sedition law be paused even as the government of India reviews it. Those jailed for sedition can approach courts for bail.
The decision of SC comes at a time when governments themselves have said they are open to the idea of reviewing this colonial era relic. The sedition law has been used by the successive governments to target the activists, journalists, comedians, political opponents and even ordinary citizens expressing their dissatisfaction with the government.
Successive reports of the Law Commission and even the Supreme Court have reported the rampant misuse of the law.
The sedition law became obsolete in the UK in the 1960s and was finally repealed in 2009. Last year, Singapore, which too, like India inherited colonial English law, repealed the law stating several new laws can sufficiently address issues that were under the ambit of the sedition law. Every nation has a right to guard its sovereignty against internal and external aggression and penal provisions to punish violence and threats to security are, therefore, necessary. But a mature democracy and open society do not need a draconian colonial-era provision. The sedition law is antithetical to the democratic values and citizens’ rights, which have progressed far beyond what British lawmakers could have imagined in 1870. The British implemented it to safeguard their empire. Modern India does not need this law.