The Supreme Court on Monday reiterated that only remarks that provoke violence and disorder amount to sedition, and "making a strong criticism of the government" was not seditious or even defamatory. A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Uday U Lalit said authorities were "bound by" the 1962 Constitution Bench ruling, according to which an individual can be charged for sedition only if his acts caused "incitement to violence or intention or tendency to create public disorder or cause disturbance of public peace".
This verdict was pronounced by the bench Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar case in 1962. "A citizen has a right to say or write whatever he likes about the government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comment, so long as he does not incite people to violence against the government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder,” the bench had held, according to The Indian Express.
The apex court was hearing a PIL filed by senior advocate Prashant Bhushan's NGO Common Cause and others. Bhushan claimed policemen were unaware of this caveat pronounced in the Kedar Nath Case, as a result of which activists, writers, student leaders, actors and poets were being arbitrarily booked in sedition cases. The court then directed the advocate to bring such cases to its notice.
The bench, however, maintained that it cannot order for a review of all sedition cases to check and that each case must be reviewed individually based on facts. It also said they cannot issue an order for director generals of police or commissioners of police to give their approval in a case before an FIR is lodged as it would go against the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code.