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Three more (including FMP) join journalists petition to SC against sedition law

Three more (including FMP) join journalists petition to SC against sedition law

Supreme Court

A journalist, a law professor and the Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP) have applied to join the petition filed by two journalists against the law of sedition.

FMP owns and operates this website.

A petition filed by journalists Kishorechandra Wangkheim and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla has challenged the colonial-legacy law that was applied against dissenters of British rule. The journalists had petitioned the apex court after FIRs were filed against them for questioning the government on media and social media through posts and cartoons. They argue that the restriction is unreasonable and the law is no longer constitutionality valid, reports Newslaundry. A Supreme Court bench of Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph had issued notice to the centre for its response.

On 12 July, the petition came up for hearing but was adjourned to later since the centre had yet to respond.

Veteran journalist, media entrepeneur and instructor Sashi Kumar has applied to be heard with the petition. Livelaw reports that Kumars petition has said that the law has a chilling effect on free speech as it suffers from 'vagueness' and 'overbreadth' and that it is misused by application in a politicised fashion. Kumars application highlights the use of sedition law against various protestors such as farmers and others.

The application filed by FMP says “The internet has not only completely revolutionised the modes of communication, but also equipped nation states to exercise control over the minutest of actions, thoughts and speech of their citizens,” reports The Hindustan Times.

Law professor Sanjay S Jain has pointed out that other countries, including Commonwealth countries such as Asutralia and NZ, have repealed the law of sedition, some with appropriate substitutes. All three applications have pointed out that the Supreme Court needs to review its stand on sedition as recorded in the Kedar Nath judgement that was decided by a constitutional bench.

In May, this year, comments from a Supreme Court bench indicated that sections of the juduciary may be open to re-looking the sedition law. The petition by the journalists is being heard by Justice UU Lalit who had recently given relief to journalist Vinod Dua in a sedition case. Dua had approached the apex court to quash sedition FIRs filed against him in Himachal Pradesh. Providing him relief, Justice Lalit had said that journalists were protected by the 1962 Kedar Nath Singh ruling.

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The Hindu