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Article 14 not considered in Kedar Nath Singh 1962 decision: says Supreme Court while hearing petition challenging sedition law.

Last Updated on September 16, 2023 by News Desk

Recently Supreme Court observed that the constitutional bench in Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar 1962 did not consider the aspect of article 14 while upholding the constitutional validity of article 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).  

The petitioners, challenging the constitutional validity of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code 18601 on the ground that it is ultra vires Article 19(1)(a) and Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India, seek a reference of the correctness of the decision in Kedar Nath Singh to a larger bench. They have contended that Section 124A is a pre-constitutional enactment and does not carry the same presumption of constitutionality as a law enacted after the Constitution was adopted. It argued that the aspect of article 14 was not considered in the Kedar Nath Singh judgement. “The provisions of Section 124A have only been tested on the anvil of Article 19(1)(a). In view of the development of law that has taken place in the six decades since the judgment of the Constitution Bench in Kedar Nath Singh, it would be necessary to re-evaluate the validity of Section 124A on the basis of the doctrines which have evolved in those years particularly having a bearing on the ambit of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution,” it added.

Mr. R Venkataramani, Attorney General for India and Mr. Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India representing the Centre government argued that the parliament has placed the bill for re-enacting the provisions of the penal code and therefore requested to defer the hearing to the larger bench. 

The Supreme Court denied the request of the centre believing that the new law proposed by the government would have prospective and not retrospective effect. Therefore, the new law will not prevent the need for a constitutional adjudication on the validity of the provision.

The court also noted that the constitutional validity of 124A of IPC was challenged on the ground that Section 124A violated Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution and thus was never tested on different aspect.

“There was no challenge on the ground that Section 124A violated Article 14 nor did the Constitution Bench have occasion to consider the validity of the provision against a constitutional challenge on the basis of Article 14. The position as it has evolved in constitutional jurisprudence is that the fundamental rights do not exist in silos. There is, in other words, a coalescence of several of the rights protected by Part III. Article 14, which presents an overarching principle of reasonableness permeates Articles 19 and 21 as well.” the court said.

 earlier, the court directed the pleas challenging the validity of 124A to the five-judge constitutional bench headed by the chief justice of India since the decision in Kedar Nath Singh’s case, was by a constitutional bench. 

Written by Shagun Behal

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