Sedition Laws in India

Authored by Tushar Ranjan, 5th year law student from Amity University Rajasthan

Sedition is defined because the illegal acts done of inciting people against the govt in power. Sedition is any act or speech which incites anybody to make of anti-national views against a Government or is probable to disrupt the general public peace or harmony of the state. The punishment for seditious offences is harsh with minimum seven years of imprisonment which can reach life imprisonment. it’s a cognizable, non- bailable and non-compoundable offence triable by the Court of Sessions. Section 124A of the Indian legal code tells that the prosecution must prove  of anti-national views towards the govt of India or Government of the State in India.

Sedition may be a permissible restriction under Article 19 (2) of the Indian Constitution which states that an inexpensive restriction could also be imposed by the government.The analysis of the appliance of the sedition laws by the varied courts of India shows how they need become outdated for this society and there are various recommendations for its application. during a democratic country like India, all citizens have the elemental Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. Although reasonable restrictions to such right allow the law of Sedition, the extent of such law may be a question of prime importance.The existence of this law in our statute books and its criminalization seems unjustified in our democratic society.Sedition is roofed under section 124-A of the IPC.

Constitutionality of Sedition in India

The first was Ram Nandan v. State of U.P[i]. The Allahabad supreme court held that S.124-A of the IPC is ultra vires because it violates Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. 124-A was said to limit freedom of speech and struck..However,this was overruled within the case of Kedarnath Das vs State of Bihar[ii]. The court during this case held that this section should limit acts involving intention or tendency to make disorder or disturbance of law and order or incitement of violence. However, if this section is employed arbitrarily, it’s in violation of Article 19.It should even be noted that in 1951 there was an amendment made in Article 19(2) which included the expression “in the interest of” and “public order”[iii]. This amendment included the restriction on freedom of speech and expression. In Kedarnath Das vs State of Bihar the Court was of the view that, the expression “in the interest of public order” features a wider connotation, and not only includes acts which are likely to disturb public order but, also can be interpreted to incorporate Section 124 – A. it had been further held that any act which is enacted within the interest of public order are often saved from constitutional invalidity. The Court also held that the proper guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) is subject to the restriction under 19 (2) which comprises of –

First, security of the state. Second, friendly relations with foreign states. Third, public order.Fourth, decency or morality.Article 124 – A of the IPC is roofed under security of the state and public order since, the section penalizes any spoken or written words or visible representation which, have the effect of bringing or which plan to usher in hatred or contempt or excite or plan to excite disaffection towards “the Government established by law”.In Romesh Thapar vs State of Maharashtra[iv], this is often a distinction that the framers of the Constitution were keen to clarify. As given within the case, the deletion of the word “sedition” from the draft Article 13(2) which finally became Article 19,which gives the proper to freedom of speech, shows that mere criticism of the govt wasn’t to be considered a ground to limit freedom of speech and expression, unless it could lead on to issues associated with public order, security and therefore the existence of the govt

  • Sedition cases have increased in recent years
  • Assam, Jharkhand, Bihar and Haryana account for more than half of all sedition cases[v]

Number of sedition cases between 2014-18

Why Sedition Laws in India?

As we all know that the majority of the laws as prevailing in India are the gifts from British to us, sedition law is one such law.The rationale for its incorporation within the draft was the rise in rebel by the Indian revolutionaries against the company rulers.As a result, the law of Sedition was introduced in the draft of Indian legal code.[vi] However, the Law of Sedition wasn’t present within the original Indian legal code of 1860. 

Conclusion:

India is that the largest democracy of the planet and therefore the right to free speech and expression is an important ingredient of democracy. If the country isn’t hospitable positive criticism, there would be no difference between the pre-and post-Independence eras.Democracy is meaningless without freedoms and sedition as interpreted and applied by the police and Governments may be a negation of it.In the Supreme Court, which is that the protector of the elemental rights of the citizens has got to step in and evaluate the law and will declare Section 124A unconstitutional if necessary.

If the country isn’t hospitable positive criticism, there would be no difference between the pre- and post-Independence eras. Of course, it’s essential to guard national integrity. Given the opinion and therefore the views of the govt in favour of the law, it’s unlikely that Section 124A are going to be scrapped soon. If the country isn’t hospitable positive criticism, there would be no difference between the pre- and post-Independence eras. Of course, it’s essential to guard national integrity. Given the opinion and therefore the views of the govt in favour of the law, it’s unlikely that Section 124A are going to be scrapped soon. 


[i] AIR 1959 All 101, 1959

[ii] 1962 AIR 955, 1962

[iii] http://ijlljs.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Essay.pdf

[iv] 1950 AIR 124, 1950 SCR 594

[v]https://www.livemint.com/news/india/sedition-cases-in-india-what-data-says-11582557299440.

[vi]https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/gk-current-affairs/story/use-and-misuse-of-sedition-law-section-124a-of-ipc-divd-1607533-2019-10-09

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