New Delhi: Urging the Supreme Court to do away with the offensive parts of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises sedition, retired Supreme Court Justice Rohinton Nariman said on Sunday that the court should not do this. Leave it to the government to remove the offending laws and instead use its judicial power to do so.
Last July, the Supreme Court observed that the sedition law was being widely misused and wondered whether the colonial-era law was now necessary. Justice Nariman said, ‘I will request the Supreme Court not to send back the pending cases of sedition law to the Centre. Governments will come and go (but) it is important for the court to exercise its power and do away with the offensive part of Section 124A and UAPA. Then the citizens here will breathe more freely. “
He was speaking at a function organized by Vishwanath Pasayat Memorial Committee. Justice Nariman held that sedition was part of the original draft but not in the final version of the Indian Penal Code prepared by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay. It came into force in 1862.
“The provision for sedition was there in the draft but not in the final book. But later it was discovered and redone. This section was said to have been omitted from inspection. The words were unclear. The punishment under 124A was huge as it was imprisonment for life and imprisonment for three years,” he asserted, adding that the law also has an impact on journalists.
UAPA is too cruel
“We had wars between China and Pakistan. Next, we introduced the tougher law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The UAPA has no anticipatory bail and carries a minimum of five years’ imprisonment. This Act is not yet under scrutiny. This also has to be looked into,” Justice Nariman said.