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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Dushyant Dave on sedition bar: Be eternally grateful to SC

It is an extraordinary decision to stay a century-old provision that has been in the statute: Senior advocate

Our Legal Correspondent New Delhi Published 13.05.22, 12:43 AM
Supreme Court.

Supreme Court. File photo

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave on Thursday said every Indian should be “eternally grateful” to the Supreme Court and termed as “extraordinary” and “historic” its decision to “stay” all pending sedition cases and proceedings.

In an interview to journalist Karan Thapar for The Wire website, Dave, however, strongly disagreed with the questioner that Thursday’s decision was actually not a stay order but only an advice since the apex court did not specifically say that it was staying all proceedings related to IPC Section 124A.

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Dave is a critic of the judiciary and has often crossed swords with judges on various issues.

“Every Indian must be eternally grateful to the Supreme Court. It is an extraordinary decision to stay a century-old provision that has been in the statute. It has a far-reaching implication. There is a complete stay on implementation of 124A. So, no new cases can be filed,” he said.

The senior advocate, widely respected for his forthright views, made the assertion in response to Thapar’s contention that the Supreme Court had merely stated in its written order that it “expressed hope” that the states and the Centre “will restrain from registering any FIR, continuing any investigation or taking any coercive measures by invoking Section 124A of IPC while the aforesaid provision of law is under consideration” of the Union government.

A bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli on Wednesday put on hold all pending sedition-related cases “until further orders”, overruling the Centre’s objections by citing the government’s own stated intention to “re-examine and reconsider” the provision.

Dave pointed out that the Supreme Court had opened a window for aggrieved persons to approach courts if any fresh case is registered.

“There are many ways courts exercise power. When court speaks in this language it is a virtual stay,” Dave said. “Once the Supreme Court couches an order, every court will understand the order,” he added.

The senior counsel said the moment the Supreme Court stayed all proceeding, it would mean that if an accused is brought before any court, “the magistrate is bound to stay the proceedings. There are enough safeguards in the order.”

On being asked why the government was given a leeway to decide on the validity of the sedition law, Dave said the top court had taken the step in view of the assurance given by the Union government in an affidavit on May 9 that it was reconsidering the provision in view of its gross misuse.

“Ultimately, the court has done something so important and far-reaching that a provision which has been in force for over century should not be enforced…. The court has given the government the role to take a decision,” Dave said.

He referred to Union law minister Kiren Rijiju’s comment that none should cross the “Lakhsman rekha”.

“If the law minister of the country is not happy with the order, that means it is a stay order and the minister holds the view that the court is overstepping its role and that is contrary to what you (Thapar) are saying,” Dave said.

“The Supreme Court is the ultimate custodian of the fundamental rights. It has greater responsibility than Parliament. It is not crossing the Lakhsman rekha, but is exercising the right conferred on it by the Constitution,” Dave said.

The interview could not be completed as Dave’s YouTube link snapped.

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