Taking a sarcastic dig at the growing trend of registering sedition cases against media, Justice DY Chandrachud remarked whether any sedition case has been filed against a news channel for showing a dead body being thrown in the river.
The quip came during the Suo Moto COVID case hearing when amicus curiae Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora was submitting that guidelines had to be formulated for the dignified handling of dead bodies.
Justice L Nageswara Rao then said that he saw a news channel report about dead bodies of COVID affected patients being dumped into a river.
Following this statement, Justice Chandrachud remarked, "I don't know if a sedition case has been filed against the news channel for showing that".
Right after the Suo Moto case, the Supreme Court took up petitions filed by two Telegu news channels – TV5 and ABN Andhra Jyoti- against the sedition case taken against them by the Andhra Pradesh police.
During that hearing, Justice Chandrachud said that his remark on sedition was in reference to this case.
"When I made the side remark in last hearing, this matter was on my mind", Justice Chandrachud told the Solicitor General.
The Solicitor General then reminded that he had supported the bench when it ordered on April 30 that contempt cases should be initiated against police clampdown on citizens' SOS calls on social media during the pandemic.
The Supreme Court stayed coercive action against the two channels, and Justice Chandrachud observed, "It is time we define the limits of sedition". The Court went on to record in its Order that there was a need to define the scope of offences under Sections 124A (sedition) and 153A (promotion of communal hatred) under the Indian Penal Code, especially in the context of media freedom.