Published on: December 11, 2021
Union Law Minister told the Lok Sabha that the Ministry of Home Affairs had no proposal under consideration to scrap Section 124A of IPC that deals with sedition.
ABOUT SECTION 124A
- Drafted by Thomas Macaulay (introduced in the 1870s)
- Originally to deal with increasing Wahabi activities between 1863 and 1870 that posed a challenge to the colonial government
- Meaning of sedition – Bring or attempt to bring hatred or contempt, or attempt to excite disaffection towards the government
- Punishment – Imprisonment for life or three years
- Centre and the States have invoked this section against activists, detractors, writers and even cartoonist seeking to silence political dissent by accusing dissenters of promoting disaffection. Dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of robust public debate in a vibrant democracy.
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 35 cases of sedition were reported in 2016. Many of these cases did not involve violence or incitement to violence
- Jawaharlal Nehru said that the provision was “obnoxious” and “highly objectionable”, and “the sooner we get rid of it the better”.
- It is a constraint on the legitimate exercise of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.
- The British, who introduced sedition to oppress Indians, have themselves abolished the law in their country
- Utility in combating anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements.
- Protects the elected government from attempts to overthrow the government with violence and illegal means.
- Need to retain the provision to effectively combat anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements.
Kedarnath vs. The State of Bihar (1962)
- The court, in this case, considered two possible interpretations of Section 124A.
- It held that if sedition is understood to mean incitement of disorder, the section will lie within the ambit of permissible legislative restrictions (it is ok to charge with Sedition in this case) mentioned in clause (2) of Article 19, which guarantees freedom of expression.
- Without any tendency to disorder or intention to create disturbance of law and order by the use of words which merely create disaffection or feelings of enmity against the government, then such an interpretation would make the section unconstitutional.