The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to file its reply within two weeks on a public interest litigation, challenging the recent circular issued by the home department, which clarifies the application of seditioncharge.
Advocate Narendra Sharma, who practices in the HC, has filed the PIL through advocate J Shekhar. In his petition, Sharma has sought the quashing of the circular issued last month.
The circular, containing guidelines to the police by the state government with regard to invocation of IPC section (124-A), says the sedition clause can be invoked against “whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation, is critical of politicians, elected representatives belonging to the government”. However, the section will not be invoked against those trying to bring in change in government through legal means “without hatred and contempt”.
Shekhar said, “Through the circular, instead of clarifying, the government is trying to amend the section. This is not permissible without following due procedure and approval of the legislature.” The PIL further states that the circular is ultra vires (beyond one’s legal power or authority) and an attempt to “gag citizens”. The petition also prays for non-implementation of the circular until a final decision on the petition.
The guidelines were issued on August 27 in accordance with assurance in the HC that the government would come out with a circular indicating limitations and parameters of 124-A. The circular has already attracted huge criticism from all quarters of the civil society.