Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman also added and highlighted that India's rank in the Global Law Index is 142 because of the colonial laws that still exist. The most debated sedition law is in the news again with former Supreme Court Justice Rohinton Nariman urging the top court to scrap Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises sedition and offensive parts of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA). Speaking at a function organised by Viswanath Pasayat Memorial Committee, Justice Nariman said that the top court should not leave it to Parliament to remove these laws. He urged the apex court to use its judicial review powers to strike down the law to help citizens breathe more freely. He said that governments will come and go and therefore the Supreme Court should strike down these laws. He added that India's rank in the Global Law Index is 142 because of the draconian and colonial laws that still exist. The sedition law and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA, in particular, have a chilling effect on journalists, he said. "The Nobel Peace Prize was given to two journalists from the Philippines and Russia. India's rank there was 142... Why? This is more to do with India's bank of colonial laws," he asserted.
Stressing on the history of sedition law in the UK and India, Justice Nariman said that the Supreme Court must strike down penal provisions of sedition. "We had the China and Pakistan wars. Thereafter, we introduced the draconian legislation- UAPA. Disaffection continues in the statute book and UAPA is a draconian act as it has no anticipatory bail and has a minimum of 5 years imprisonment. This act is not under the scanner yet. This too has to be looked into along with the sedition law," he said. Former Justice Rohinton Nariman’s unequivocal demand for the repeal of the sedition laws and UAPA has given a fresh boost to the movement for the removal of the draconian laws and this should have some impact on the present bench of the Supreme Court. The CJI N V Ramana is taking a more objective view of the pending cases involving human rights issues and the expectation has grown that the CJI will look at the sedition case taking into account the need for ensuring freedom in speech and activities of the citizens. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with sedition, provides for a maximum punishment of life imprisonment if a person shows “disaffection” towards the government through “words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation”. In July, the Supreme Court had agreed to examine the law’s validity. Meanwhile, in the case of UAPA, lawyers and judges see the law as part of the police’s efforts to stifle peaceful dissent. They have also said the police in India are frequently using the anti-terrorism law as it enables them to detain the accused for longer periods of time without a trial. Under the law, investigative agencies get 180 days to probe a case, compared to 60-90 days under ordinary criminal law. This means an accused is eligible to apply for bail only after six months.