"Hope And Expect": No Clear Direction By SC Against Registering FIR U/s. 124A Of IPC [Read Order]
The Supreme Court has only said in its order that it hopes and expects that the central and state governments will restrain from registering FIRs for Sedition under Section 124A of the IPC.
The fact that there is no restriction imposed on registering of FIR under the said provision is clear from the fact that liberty has been granted to affected parties, if an FIR is registered, to approach the Court concerned "for appropriate relief". The Bench has not spelt out what that relief could be.
The Bench merely says that such courts are "requested" to examine the reliefs sought, taking into account the present order passed as well as the clear stand taken by the Union of India.
The only clear direction in the Order is to keep all pending trials, appeals and proceedings with respect to the charge framed under Section 124A of IPC in abeyance. The Bench, however, clarifies that adjudication with respect to other Sections, if any, could proceed.
Moreover, the Bench has also said in the order that the Center will be at liberty to issue the Directive "as proposed and placed before us", to prevent misuse of the provision.
The Center had made two suggestions, orally, during the hearing today. The first was that an FIR under Section 124A will be registered only if an officer not below the rank of an SP records his satisfaction in writing about the application of the provision and the second was that the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the matter of Vinod Dua v. Union of India will be scrupulously followed.
"This Court is cognizant of security interests and integrity of the State on one hand, and the civil liberties of citizens on the other. There is a requirement to balance both sets of considerations, which is a difficult exercise", the Bench of Chief Justice N. V. Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli says in its order.
The Court cites the case of recital of the Hanuman Chalisa by the Rana couple in Maharashtra, as cited by the Attorney General, as a case of misuse of the provision.
The directions passed by the Bench while adjourning the matters to the third week of July 2022 are as follows:-
"a. The interim stay granted in W.P.(Crl.)No.217/2021 along with W.P.(Crl.)No.216/2021 vide order dated 31.05.2021 shall continue to operate till further orders.
b. We hope and expect that the State and Central Governments 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.
c. If any fresh case is registered under Section 124A of IPC, the affected parties are at liberty to approach the concerned Courts for appropriate relief. The Courts are requested to examine the reliefs sought, taking into account the present order passed as well as the clear stand taken by the Union of India.
d. All pending trials, appeals and proceedings with respect to the charge framed under Section 124A of IPC be kept in abeyance. Adjudication with respect to other Sections, if any, could proceed if the Courts are of the opinion that no prejudice would be caused to the accused.
e. In addition to the above, the Union of India shall be at liberty to issue the Directive as proposed and placed before us, to the State Governments/Union Territories to prevent any misuse of Section 124A of IPC.
f. The above directions may continue till further orders are passed."