22 July 2023 2:15 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice in the writ petition filed by the Assamese activist-turned-politician Akhil Gogoi challenging the constitutional validity of the offence of sedition contained in Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 along with related offences “which employ similar logic of sedition inasmuch as they entail the same ingredients”. The bench comprising CJI...
The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice in the writ petition filed by the Assamese activist-turned-politician Akhil Gogoi challenging the constitutional validity of the offence of sedition contained in Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 along with related offences “which employ similar logic of sedition inasmuch as they entail the same ingredients”.
The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice Manoj Misra was hearing the petitioner who was represented by Senior Advocate Hufeza Ahmadi who submitted that–
"I am charged under the section. am saying the provision is ultra-vires to the Constitution."
The court issued notice in the plea for interim relief against invoking sedition charges against Gogoi.
The petitioner – an independent legislator representing Assam’s Sibsagar in the state legislative assembly and president of the Raijor Dal – has had extensive run-ins with the law, especially because of his involvement in anti-government protests such as those against the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (later Citizenship (Amendment) Act). When the CAA-NRC protests were at their peak, in December of 2019, Gogoi was arrested by the police. Not only was he booked under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different communities), and 153B (making imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration) of the Indian Penal Code, but various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 were also pressed into service.
The allegations against the Sibsagar MLA, according to his petition, are in the nature of ‘speech offences’. “None alleges that the petitioner ever indulged in violence of any kind,” the petition states, “The prosecution’s worst case against the petitioner is that he conspired to mobilize masses against the government of the day (in 2008 or 2009) and also criticised government policies and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in 2019.”
The petitioner also claims that he is an object of prejudice because his ‘dissenting speech’ critical of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or Citizenship (Amendment) Act is “always seen as a symptom of some deep-rooted conspiracy”. “Similarly,” the petition states, “Misdemeanours, or even IPC offences are elevated to the level of ‘terrorist activities’ as defined under the UAPA.” It is further emphasised that mere calls for bandhs are equated with economic blockades that intend to systemically destroy the economy, “since it has been suggested, and it plays on the back of the mind while judging the speeches, that there may have been some larger conspiracy”.
Case Title: Akhil Gogoi v. Union Of India | W.P.(C) No. 672/2023
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