Centre gets SC notice over Swamy’s plea against IPC

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea challenging the constitutional validity of the Indian Penal Code’s sections meant to curb hate speech and activities prejudicial to maintenance of peace.

The plea challenges the constitutional validity of Section 153(a) and Section 295(a) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which are meant to curb hate speeches and activities prejudicial to maintenance of peace and harmony.

Swamy has contended that the Section 153(a) and Section 295(a) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were vaguely worded and were prone to be misused.

While issuing notice to the Centre on the contentious provision of IPC, the apex court bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice M.Y. Eqbal put on hold for six weeks the execution of non-bailable warrants issued against Swamy by a Karimganj court in Assam.

The additional chief judicial magistrate of Karimganj issued non-bailable warrant of arrest (NBW) against Swamy on a complaint relating to his March 2015 comments that mosques were just buildings with no religious sentiments attached to them and could be pulled down anytime.

As Swamy’s counsel T.R. Andhyaruijuna told the court that whatever was being attributed to Swamy was said in the course of a university lecture, the court said it was issuing notice on the plea challenging the two sections of the IPC.

The apex court said the challenge to Section 153(a) and Section 295(a) of the IPC involved larger issue and Swamy was entitled to be heard.

However, the court said it was not inclined to interfere as far as “individual issue” of issuance of the NBW against him was concerned. It asked Swamy to approach the “appropriate court of competent jurisdiction” to contest the NBW, and put the NBW on hold for six weeks.

The Karimganj additional chief judicial magistrate had asked police in Assam and Delhi to present Swamy before it on or before June 30.

During a programme in Guwahati, Swamy had said that in Saudi Arabia, the mosques, if required, are pulled down and constructed at other places.

Following a complaint, a case was registered against Swamy on charges of conspiracy and promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion.

Section 153 A of the Indian Panel Code provides for punishment for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.

Section 295 A of the IPC provides for punishment for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.

Swamy has contended that the provision of both the sections – 153A and 259A IPC – are vaguely worded and were prone to be misused as was Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which was recently read down by the apex court.

He said there has to be a distinction between the incitement or advocacy and the expression of opinion.

Swamy has said that everything that one says could not be lumped together under Section 153A and 295A of IPC, and there has to be a nexus or linkage between what was said in an alleged breach of two sections and things actually happening.

 

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