The BJP, which leads the ruling NDA government at the Centre, and the Congress sparred over the Supreme Curt’s decision on the sedition law (section 124A) yesterday on Wednesday. After Rahul Gandhi, Congress leader and MP from Wayanad, reacted to the news by tweeting that “telling the truth is patriotism, not treason… suppressing the truth is against the country”, Union Law Minister responded by asking why Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi had maintained the law in the books, and why it was used during the 2011 Anna movement for “harassment, intimidation, and arrests”, referring to the time when the Congress-led UPA was in power.
सच बोलना देशभक्ति है, देशद्रोह नहीं।— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 11, 2022
सच कहना देश प्रेम है, देशद्रोह नहीं।
सच सुनना राजधर्म है,
सच कुचलना राजहठ है।
डरो मत! pic.twitter.com/AvbWVxKh6p
That's why Nehru Ji brought in the First Amendment and Smt Indira Gandhi made Section 124A a cognisable offence for the first time in India’s history?— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) May 12, 2022
And during Anna Movement & the other anti-corruption movements citizens were subjected to harassment, intimidation and arrests? https://t.co/ZJsIfLuzme
Kiren Rijiju’s ‘Lakshman Rekha’ Remark
Reacting to the Supreme Court putting the sedition law on hold and rejecting the Centre’s argument that trials and proceedings under it should continue since ‘terror cases’ are also involved, Mr. Rijiju said to reporters that:
"We've made our positions very clear and also informed the court about the intention of our PM (Prime Minister Narendra Modi). We respect the court and its independence. But there's a 'Lakshman Rekha' that must be respected by all organs of the state in letter and spirit. We have to ensure that we respect the provisions of the Indian Constitution as well as existing laws"
To this, former Home Minister and senior advocate P. Chidambaram said that the law minister has no authority to establish any “arbitrary Lakshman Rekha”.
The Law Minister of India has no authority to draw any arbitrary Lakshman Rekha— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) May 12, 2022
He should read Article 13 of the Constitution
The Legislature cannot make a law, nor can a law be allowed to remain on the statute book, that violates the Fundamental Rights
The sedition law has been contentious since it has been slapped on ordinary and prominent citizens and political leaders alike for expressing views, creating art, making speeches, etc. Some examples include the use of the law against alleged ‘anti-national’ sloganeering at Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2015, against former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah for remarks made during a TV interview, Activist Disha Ravi who forwarded a ‘toolkit’ related to the farmers protest, a document allegedly created to “defame India throughout the world on the matter of three agrarian legislation”, among many others.