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Home / India / None should cross Lakshman rekha: Rijiju after SC order

None should cross Lakshman rekha: Rijiju after SC order

Law minister takes a swipe at Congress, says the party has always stood with Breaking India forces and left no opportunity to divide the country
Kiren Rijiju.
Kiren Rijiju.
File photo

J.P. Yadav   |   New Delhi   |   Published 12.05.22, 02:28 AM

Law minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday said the various institutions’ areas of authority were separated by a “Lakshman rekha” that “should not be crossed by anybody”.

“We have made our position very clear and also informed the court about the intention of our PM (to re-examine the sedition law). We respect the court and its independence. But there is a Lakshman rekha that must be respected by all organs of the State in letter and spirit,” Rijiju told reporters after the Supreme Court stayed all pending proceedings under the sedition law.

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“We respect each other. The court should respect the government, legislature, so as the government should also respect the court. We have a clear demarcation of boundary and that Lakshman rekha should not be crossed by anybody.”

The Centre had told the apex court, which was hearing petitions challenging the sedition law, to stay away from the issue saying the government had “decided to re-examine and reconsider”

the provision and that this could be done only “before the competent forum”  (Parliament).

On Wednesday, the court cited this statement to stay the sedition-related proceedings and nudged governments not to register fresh FIRs under the provision till the Centre had finished reconsidering the law.

As the court was passing the order, senior ministers including home minister Amit Shah were attending the launch of a book on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, titled Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery, at Vigyan Bhavan.

There was no official response from the BJP to the apex court order. Party leaders and spokespersons extolled the Modi government’s “bold stand” to review the sedition law while seeking not to comment on the Supreme Court order. Party president J.P. Nadda was busy addressing rallies in Rajasthan where Assembly elections are due at the end of next year.

Rijiju’s predecessor as law minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, stressed the relevance of sedition cases to the “country’s security” but declined to comment on the court order.

“First of all, Hon’ble PM Modi has taken an extraordinary and courageous stand that this colonial law shall be re-examined objectively by the government,” he said.

“But the larger issue is that any plea of sedition has to be examined keeping in mind the country’s security and also the civil liberty of citizens.”

Target Congress

Sometime after his “Lakshman rekha” comment, Rijiju launched a scathing attack on the Congress, responding to Rahul Gandhi’s sedition law-related tweet that said “speaking the truth is patriotism, not treason” and that “crushing the truth is arrogance towards the nation”.

“Empty words by @RahulGandhi. If there is one party that is the antithesis of freedom, democracy and respect for institutions, it is the Indian National Congress. This party has always stood with Breaking India forces and left no opportunity to divide India,” Rijiju tweeted.

He then referred to the first amendment to the Constitution, brought about on Jawaharlal Nehru’s watch, claiming the provision aimed at “curtailing freedom of expression” and was opposed by Jana Sangh leader S.P. Mookerjee. He underlined that Nehru had dismissed an elected government in Kerala.

“And when it comes to trampling over free speech, Mrs Indira Gandhi is a Gold Medal Winner!” Rijiju said, referring to the Emergency and accusing her of using Article 356 “over 50 times” and promoting a “committed judiciary”.

“And, it was the Indira Gandhi government which made Section 124A a cognisable offence for the first time in India’s history. This happened in the new Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which came into force in 1974. Has Congress checked its own past?” Rijiju wrote.

“UPA government has the worst track record of filing sedition cases. In 2012, thousands of people had sedition cases filed against them under the watchful eyes of ‘Recounting Minister’ P Chidambaram.”



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