Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal on Friday said that the government would take an informed and reasoned decision after consulting all stakeholders on the Law Commission's report for retaining the penal provision for the offence of sedition with model guidelines to curb its misuse.
Meghwal, in a tweet, said: "Now that we have received the report, we will also hold consultations with all the other stakeholders so that we take an informed and reasoned decision in the public interest".
"The law commission report on Sedition is one of the steps in the extensive consultative process. The recommendations made in the report are persuasive and not binding. Ultimately, the final decision will be taken only after consulting all the stakeholders".
The Law Commission, in its report submitted to the government, has said it is of considered view that Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) dealing with sedition needs to be retained, though certain amendments could be introduced to bring about greater clarity regarding usage of the provision and stressed that sedition being a "colonial legacy" is not a valid ground for its repeal.
It also recommended enhancing the jail term in sedition cases from a minimum of three years to seven years.The Law Commission said it is cognizant of the views regarding the misuse of Section 124A, and recommends that model guidelines curbing the misuse be issued by the Centre.
22nd Law Commission's Chairman Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi (retd), in his covering letter to Law Minister Meghwal, said: "In this context, it is also alternatively suggested that a provision analogous to Section 196(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) may be incorporated as a proviso to Section 154 of CrPC, which would provide the requisite procedural safeguard before filing of an FIR with respect to an offence under Section 124A of IPC."
The commission, in its report, said: "in our considered opinion, it is imperative to lay down certain procedural guidelines for curbing any misuse of Section l24A of IPC by the law enforcement authorities, any allegation of misuse of this provision does not by implication warrant a call for its repeal."
The commission recommended enhancing the jail term in sedition cases from a minimum of three years to seven years. "It is, therefore, suggested that the provision be revised to bring it in consonance with the scheme of punishment provided for other offences under Chapter VI.
This would allow the courts greater room to award punishment for a case of sedition in accordance with the scale and gravity of the act committed," it said.The commission, in the report on the 'Usage of the Law of Sedition', said its earlier report had termed the punishment for Section 124A (law of sedition) of the IPC "very odd" as it has provisions for either life imprisonment or a three-year jail term, but nothing in between, and with the minimum punishment being only fine. "A comparison of the sentences as provided for the offences in Chapter VI of the IPC suggests that there is a glaring disparity in the punishment prescribed for Section 124A," it said.