Clear demarcation of borders, Lakshman Rekha must not be crossed: Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju

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Responding to the Supreme Court ruling that effectively put all pending sedition cases on hold, Union Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday invoked the “Lakshman Rekha” between the executive and the judiciary, and said no one should cross their “border”.

“We respect each other. The court must respect the government, the legislature… The government must also respect the court. We have a clear border demarcation and that ‘Lakshman Rekha’ should not be crossed by anyone,” he said.

His remarks came after the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, in its order, noted that “it is clear that the Union of India agrees with the prima facie opinion expressed by this Court that the rigors of Section 124A of the IPC is out of step with the present social environment, and was intended for a time when this country was under colonial rule.

Rijiju also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intentions were also conveyed to the Court on the Sedition Act. “We must ensure that we adhere to the provisions of the Indian Constitution as well as existing laws,” he said.

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Although the government told the Court that the Center would review the Sedition Act, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the suspension of ongoing cases or the banning of the registration of new FIRs under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code which defines and punishes sedition.

“What your lordships may consider is that if there is a bail application stage involving IPC 124A, bail applications can be decided quickly,” said Mehta, arguing that some of the ongoing cases might be related to terrorism or money laundering and that the Center cannot help registering a case involving a statutory offence.

However, the Court, in its order, said it “hopes and expects that” state and central governments will refrain from registering any FIR, pursuing any investigation or taking any enforcement action. by invoking Article 124A of the ICC while the aforementioned provision of law is under consideration.

“This Court is mindful of the interests of security and the integrity of the state on the one hand, and the civil liberties of citizens on the other. There is a need to balance both sets of considerations, which is a difficult exercise,” the Court added.

Incidentally, CJI Ramana had also recently mentioned the theme of “Lakshman Rekha” between the two institutions and “assured” governments that “the judiciary would never obstruct governance if it is in accordance with the law”.

“It is the harmonious and coordinated functioning of the three organs of the state that has preserved and strengthened the democratic foundations of this great nation over the past seven decades. In carrying out our duties, we must all be aware of the Lakshman Rekha. The judiciary would never stand in the way of governance if it was in accordance with the law. We share our anxiety and concern for the welfare of the people,” he said at the Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi on April 30.

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