SCO Daily: SC Returns from Diwali Break

CJI Lalit heard challenges to CAA and Sedition. Justice Chandrachud reiterated the bar on the two-finger test in sexual assault cases.

The Supreme Court reopened to an eventful day after a week-long Diwali vacation.

A Bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud delivered a judgment which held that a person who conducts the “two-finger test” while examining a victim sexual assault will be guilty of misconduct.  In 2013, the Supreme Court banned the  two-finger test on victims of sexual assault stating that it violates the victim’s right to privacy.

Meanwhile, the Chief Justice’s Bench heard challenges to the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and Section 124A of Indian Penal Code,1860, which criminalises sedition. The 2019 Act set up a process to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Those challenging CAA argue that the law violates the right to equality.

The Central Government filed an affidavit defending the CAA saying that the law does not affect the rights of any of the Indian citizens. The centre has said that the  prevailing system of getting Indian citizenship has not changed because of CAA.  The Centre has also said that matters relating to immigration policy and exclusion of citizenship are within the powers of the parliament and cannot be challenged by filing Public Interest Litigations. 

In the hearing today, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought time to file replies on behalf of Assam and Tripura. He asked the court to split over 200 petitions into 2 categories-the first concerning broader citizenship questions and the second concerning Assam and Tripura. The Bench granted 2 weeks to the States to file these replies. The case will now be heard on December 6th, 2022. 

Meanwhile in the sedition hearing, the Supreme Court intended to take stock of the situation after it had passed an interim order in May, 2022, asking Union & States must stop all pending sedition cases & refrain from filing new cases until Centre reconsiders the law. Today, Attorney General Venkatramani informed the court that Centre will ‘probably’ reconsider S 124A in the next Parliament session and asked the court to adjourn the case till January. 

Lawyers for parties challenging sedition argued that the interim order is ambiguous and does not expressly stop the States from registering sedition FIRs. However, the AG assured that the Centre has issued directives clarifying that States should register sedition FIRs. CJI Lalit, recorded AGs assurance in the order and adjourned the cases to the second week of January 2023. CJI Lalit has asked the centre place the directives it has issued to the States before the next date of hearing. 

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