7 July 2022
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The Supreme Court should protect the freedom of speech and expression under the “basic structure principle” of the Constitution, a group of 108 former civil servants said in a statement released by the Constitutional Conduct Group on Sunday.

The “basic structure principle” should ensure that restrictions on speech and expression must only be imposed if they are “likely to result in imminent violence or restrict the freedom of speech and expression of others”, the statement noted.

The statement came exactly a month after the Supreme Court put the colonial-era sedition law – Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code – in abeyance and requested state governments and the Centre to not file any new cases under the rule till it is re-examined.

The sedition law states that whoever “brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India” can be held to have committed the offence of sedition.

On Sunday, the Constitutional Conduct Group said that the Supreme Court’s interim order deserves only a “muted cheer”.

“Whether or not Section 124A is finally deleted or altered, it will make little difference to the common citizen in so far as freedom of speech and expression as spelt out…

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Abdul Gh Lone