After historic sedition order, Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju slams Rahul Gandhi for jibing

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Rahul Gandhi immediately took to Twitter, pointing the finger at the BJP-led government.

New Delhi:

The historic and landmark Supreme Court order on colonial-era sedition law in the country hours ago has already sparked a war of words between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress. In a series of tweets, Union Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju called Congress “the antithesis of freedom, democracy and respect for institutions” after the former Congress leader and MP for Wayanad, Rahul Gandhi, mocked the Center for “crushing the truth”.

The controversial sedition law will be put on hold while the government reviews it, the court heard today and allowed those jailed for sedition to go to court for bail. The Center had argued against suspending the law, arguing that it would review it and that a police officer at superintendent level or above could decide whether a sedition charge should be filed in the meantime.

Rahul Gandhi immediately took to Twitter to share the news while raising his arms against the BJP-led trade union government, without naming anyone.

“Speaking the truth is patriotism, not treason. Speaking the truth is love for the nation, not treason. To listen to the truth is the duty to the nation. To crush the truth is to arrogance towards the nation,” he wrote in Hindi while sharing the news.

Mr. Rijiju hit out at Mr. Gandhi, pointing to instances where the grand old party and its famous leaders were far from being examples of free speech.

“Empty words from @RahulGandhi If there is one party that is the antithesis of freedom, democracy and respect for institutions, it is the Indian National Congress

This party has always stood with the forces of Breaking India and left no room for dividing India,” the minister tweeted citing Mr Gandhi’s jibe.

He then mentioned the first amendment to the Constitution made by the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. He sought to limit fundamental rights to protect against “the abuse of freedom of speech and expression”. Mr. Rijiju also mentioned that Mr. Nehru had sacked the elected government of Kerala.

He then referred to the imposition of emergency by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, frequently using Article 356 which gives the Center control over states, and her attempts to weaken the judicial system.

Continuing his scathing attack in subsequent tweets, he also pointed out that “it was the Indira Gandhi government that made Section 124A a recognizable offense for the first time in Indian history.”

In more recent instances, he targeted former UPA Congress minister P Chidambaram, saying he “has the worst record of filing sedition cases”.

Just after the order, said Mr. Rijiju while he “respected the court and its independence”, there is a “Lakshman Rekha” which cannot be crossed.

“We have made our positions clear and informed the court of the intention of our Prime Minister (Prime Minister Narendra Modi). We respect the court and its independence. But there is a ‘Lakshman Rekha’ who must be respected by all organs of state in letter and spirit. We must ensure that we adhere to the provisions of the Indian Constitution as well as the laws in force,” the justice minister told reporters.

“We respect each other, the court must respect the government, the legislature, so the government must also respect the court. We have a clear boundary demarcation and Lakshman Rekha should not be crossed by anyone,” Mr. Rijiju.

As he made the pointed comment, Mr Rijiju dodged the question of whether he thought the Supreme Court’s decision was wrong.

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