Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who has been the target of numerous barbs from the ruling BJP and its leaders, was mentioned on Tuesday during a hearing on sedition law petitions. The case was heard by a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana.
“We are in the post-constitution era,” said Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who was representing the petitioners and was arguing about the misuse of sedition law. This provision, according to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, is “obnoxious,” and “the sooner we get rid of sedition, the better.”
“What Nehru couldn’t do, the current government is doing,” said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Centre.
We are attempting to accomplish what Pandit Nehru was unable to accomplish at the time.”
The Solicitor General was referring to the fact that the government has told the Supreme Court that it is willing to revisit the law in light of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for human rights and the country’s 75th anniversary of independence, which includes the removal of colonial baggage.
Mr Sibal, on the other hand, refused to accept that argument and retorted, saying, “No way, no how. That is not what you are doing. You are in favour of the law. Mr. Mehta, you’re saying everything is fine.”
Then he quoted Mahatma Gandhi, who said, “Affection is impossible to manufacture. So long as there is no incitement to violence, people should be free to express their discontent.
Being dissatisfied with the government is a virtue in my opinion.”
Mr Sibal’s legal argument was that the current administration has been misusing the law by equating government and state, and that anything said against the government is treated as an act against the nation.
The hearing on sedition came a day after the government announced it would review the legislation, a significant shift just two days after vehemently defending the country’s colonial-era law and asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeals.
“In the spirit of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav (75 years of Independence) and the vision of PM Narendra Modi, the Government of India has decided to re-examine and reconsider the provisions of Section 124A, Sedition law,” the centre said in a new affidavit filed in the Supreme Court.
It urged the Supreme Court to wait for a “competent forum” to review the sedition law and to “not invest time” in petitions filed by the Editors’ Guild of India, Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra, and others.