Important to strike down 124A and offensive portion of UAPA: Ex-SC judge

Hyderabad: Former Supreme Court judge Rohinton Fali Nariman on Sunday said that it is important for the apex court to use its power and strike down 124A and the “offensive portion of UAPA” laws, after which citizens would breathe more freely.

Justice Nariman was speaking at an online talk held to commemorate the 109th birth anniversary of former Supreme Court judge, late Viswanath Pasayat. Supreme court judge Justice UU Lalit presided over as chief guest, and justice S Muralidhar, who is chief justice of the Orissa high court, was the guest of honour.

According to Bar and Bench, Justice NairmanNariman remarked during the online event, “I would exhort the supreme court to not send sedition law cases pending before it back to the Centre. Governments will come and go it is important for the court to use its power and strike down 124A and offensive portion of UAPA, then citizen here would breathe more freely.”

He pointed out that the Nobel Peace Prize was given to two journalists from the Philippines. “India’s rank there was 142..why? This is more to do with India’s bank of colonial laws,” he said.

Furthermore, justice Nariman explained that Edward III had a treason act, England matured as a democracy thereafter and there was a commission set up in 1977 which recommended in 1977 that sedition be abolished and it was done so.

Justice Nariman further asked, “how in this large democracy is Section 124A surviving?” and criticised the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, stating that “disaffection continues in statute book”. He was of the opinion that the UAPA is a draconian act as it has no anticipatory bail and has minimum of 5 years imprisonment.

“This act is not under scanner yet. This too has to be looked into along with the sedition law,” he stressed. He also added that the effect of this sedition law and UAPA has a chilling effect on journalists.