“The court must respect the government, the legislature, just as the government must also respect the court,” said Kiren Rijiju.
As the Supreme Court on Wednesday (May 11) suspended the operation of the Sedition Act, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju invoked “Lakshman Rekha” guiding different institutions including the executive and the judiciary, and declared that no one should cross their “border”. Responding to reporters’ questions shortly after the supreme court issued its instructions, Rijiju said, “We respect each other. The court has to respect the government, the legislature, so the government has to respect the court as well.” and that ‘Lakshman Rekha’ should not be crossed by anyone.”
In its landmark sedition law order that has been the subject of intense public scrutiny, a bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana said it was necessary to balance the interests of civil liberties and the interests of citizens with those of the state. Noting the Union government’s concerns, the Supreme Court said the rigors of IPC Section 124A (sedition) are out of step with the current social milieu and prompted a reconsideration of the provision.
The bench, which also includes Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, suspended all proceedings in the sedition cases while ordering the Center and the states not to register new FIRs invoking sedition charges until the law on sedition is “under review”. The court entered the case in the third week of July and said its instructions would continue until further notice.
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Addressing the joint conference of Chief Justices of High Courts and Chief Ministers here on April 30, CJI Ramana had also stressed the importance of ‘Lakshman Rekha’. Reminding the three branches of state – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary – to be “mindful of ‘Lakshman Rekha’ in the performance of their duties”, he assured governments that “the judiciary would never do impediment to governance if it is in accordance with the law”.
“We share your anxiety and concern for the welfare of the people,” Judge Ramana said.
Going further, he said that all constitutional officials abide by the constitutional mandate, as the Constitution provides for the separation of powers between the three bodies, clearly defining their area of operation and delineating their powers and responsibilities.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Rijiju said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had ordered that the sedition law provision be reviewed and reconsidered and that the government “appropriately” consider the views of stakeholders and ensure the sovereignty and integrity of the country is preserved when considering section 124A of the IPC. Rijiju had said he believed it was a “bold” step taken by the government and that the law-making was the responsibility of the government.