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SC mulls laying guidelines for application of Sedition law on journalists

The court was dealing with a petition filed by two news channels who were charged under sedition and observed that the terms used in the FIR amounted to muzzling of the media

Sabrangindia 02 Jun 2021

Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

The Supreme Court is mulling interpreting the Sedition law especially on its application to freedom of press. The court made this observation while granting protection to two news channels of Andhra Pradesh from coercive action as they were charged of Sedition, promoting enmity and making statements conducing to public mischief.

“Having heard learned counsel, we are of the view that the ambit and parameters of the provisions of Sections 124A, 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code would require interpretation, particularly in the context of the right of the electronic and print media to communicate news, information… even those that may be critical of the prevailing regime in any part of the nation,” said the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat.

The two news channels, TV5 and ABN had approached the court against the FIR filed against them, and while translating some of the vernacular terms in the FIR, Justice Rao, reportedly, remarked that it was like “muzzling the media”. Justice Chandrachud said that if a TV channel says something, it cannot be termed as Sedition, and that “some guidelines must be set,” reported Indian Express.

The bench directed a stay on coercive measures against the TV channels but did not stay the investigation. The court has granted 4 weeks’ time to the state to respond to the petition.

The police had registered a suo moto case based on an enquiry report of the DIG-CID in Guntur District on allegations that the channels were broadcasting comments made by Lok Sabha MP K Raghu Rama Krishna Raju, criticising the Y S Jaganmohan Reddy led government. Raju had alleged that he was subjected to third degree torture while in police custody and has moved the apex court seeking a CBI inquiry.

In its plea, TV5 alleged that the FIR was a consequence of the channel broadcasting the speeches of Raju. The ABN petition said that ever since the Reddy-led government came to power, “ABN Andhrajyothi” channel has allegedly been “targeted by the State Government and its broadcasting was stopped at the ruling party/State Government’s behest, forcing it to approach the Hon’ble TDSAT and despite the order, the access to the petitioners’ channel is limited in Andhra Pradesh,” reported the Indian Express.

A three-judge bench of the apex court Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph issued notice in April, in a plea filed by two journalists, namely, Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha from Manipur and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla from Chhattisgarh, challenging the validity of sedition law.

Related:

Manipur: Journalist, activist post comment on cow dung, charged under NSA
SC to consider Constitutional validity of Sedition law, issues notice
Our Constitution does not permit such liberal use of NSA: Justice Govind Mathur

SC mulls laying guidelines for application of Sedition law on journalists

The court was dealing with a petition filed by two news channels who were charged under sedition and observed that the terms used in the FIR amounted to muzzling of the media

Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

The Supreme Court is mulling interpreting the Sedition law especially on its application to freedom of press. The court made this observation while granting protection to two news channels of Andhra Pradesh from coercive action as they were charged of Sedition, promoting enmity and making statements conducing to public mischief.

“Having heard learned counsel, we are of the view that the ambit and parameters of the provisions of Sections 124A, 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code would require interpretation, particularly in the context of the right of the electronic and print media to communicate news, information… even those that may be critical of the prevailing regime in any part of the nation,” said the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat.

The two news channels, TV5 and ABN had approached the court against the FIR filed against them, and while translating some of the vernacular terms in the FIR, Justice Rao, reportedly, remarked that it was like “muzzling the media”. Justice Chandrachud said that if a TV channel says something, it cannot be termed as Sedition, and that “some guidelines must be set,” reported Indian Express.

The bench directed a stay on coercive measures against the TV channels but did not stay the investigation. The court has granted 4 weeks’ time to the state to respond to the petition.

The police had registered a suo moto case based on an enquiry report of the DIG-CID in Guntur District on allegations that the channels were broadcasting comments made by Lok Sabha MP K Raghu Rama Krishna Raju, criticising the Y S Jaganmohan Reddy led government. Raju had alleged that he was subjected to third degree torture while in police custody and has moved the apex court seeking a CBI inquiry.

In its plea, TV5 alleged that the FIR was a consequence of the channel broadcasting the speeches of Raju. The ABN petition said that ever since the Reddy-led government came to power, “ABN Andhrajyothi” channel has allegedly been “targeted by the State Government and its broadcasting was stopped at the ruling party/State Government’s behest, forcing it to approach the Hon’ble TDSAT and despite the order, the access to the petitioners’ channel is limited in Andhra Pradesh,” reported the Indian Express.

A three-judge bench of the apex court Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph issued notice in April, in a plea filed by two journalists, namely, Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha from Manipur and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla from Chhattisgarh, challenging the validity of sedition law.

Related:

Manipur: Journalist, activist post comment on cow dung, charged under NSA
SC to consider Constitutional validity of Sedition law, issues notice
Our Constitution does not permit such liberal use of NSA: Justice Govind Mathur

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