‘It’s Time We Defined Sedition Limits,’ the Supreme Court Says, Refusing to Take Coercive Action Against News Organizations

The Supreme Court on Monday barred the Andhra Pradesh police from taking any coercive action against two Telugu news channels, TV5 and ABN Andhra Jyothi, for allegedly sedition in airing YSR rebel MP K Raghu Rama Krishna Raju’s “offensive” statements.

The channels have filed writ petitions seeking the quashing of the FIR as well as contempt petitions, arguing that the Andhra Police action is a violation of an earlier SC order prohibiting citizens from being arrested or prosecuted for airing grievances about Covid-19 issues.

Senior attorneys Shyam Divan and Sidharth Luthra representing the two stations argued that the FIRs were filed for publicising the comments of rebel leader and MP Raghu Rama Krishnam Raju, according to the article.

A special bench led by Justice DY Cyhandrachud demanded that the state government respond within four weeks to the channels’ appeals for numerous offences, including the heinous crime of sedition. The bench, which included justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, further stated that no coercive action would be taken against news channel employees or personnel in connection with the same FIR.

“It is past time for us to establish the boundaries of sedition,” Justice DY Chandrachud said.

The FIRs appear to be an attempt to “muzzle media freedom,” according to a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court. The bench further noted that, in the context of media freedom, there was no need to define the scope of offences under Sections 124A and 153A of the IPC.

The court stated, “We are of the opinion that clauses of the IPC 124A (sedition) and 153 (raising animosity between classes) demand interpretation, notably on the question of press and free expression rights.” It was claimed that FIRs had been filed against the channels for airing Raju’s press comments. The politician had previously been granted bail in the same matter by the Supreme Court.

The bench issued notifications on the news networks’ petitions and postponed coercive measures against them until the next hearing date.

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