[Answered] Successive reports of the Law Commission and even the Supreme Court have reported the rampant misuse of the Sedition law. In this context, do you think that sedition law should be scrapped? Give reasons in support of your answer.

Introduction: Contextual introduction
Body: Write some reasons for the abolition as well as in support of sedition law.
Conclusion: Write some suggestions.

Sedition law (under Section 124A IPC) punishes words or actions that attempt to incite hatred, contempt and disaffection towards governments.  It is a cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offence with life imprisonment as maximum punishment, with or without a fine. The law was originally drafted by Thomas Macaulay.

 Why it should be abolished?

  • The United Kingdom had abolished sedition laws in 2009. It is not justified to retain Section 124A in the IPC.
  • It creates a false dichotomy between freedom of and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a and the right to resistance. It is not even part of the “reasonable restrictions” on free speech under Article 19(2).
  • Frequent Misuse: The data provided by National Crime Record Bureau indicates that sedition cases have risen from 47 in 2014 to 93 in 2019, a massive 163 percent jump. However, the conversion rate from cases to conviction is a mere 3 percent.
  • Opposing democracy: A democracy requires citizens to actively participate in debates and express their constructive criticisms of government policies. But it is being compromised due to the sedition law.
  • The 267th Report of the Law Commission distinguished between sedition and hate speech. To qualify as sedition, the impugned expression must threaten the sovereignty and integrity of India and the security of the State.

Arguments in support of Sedition law:

  • Section 124A of the IPC has its utility in combating anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements.
  • It is argued that if contempt of court invites penal action, contempt of government should also attract punishment.
  • In Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar (1962), the SC upheld the law on the basis that this power was required by the state to protect itself and should be exercised in rare cases.
  • In its 1968 report, the Law Commission had rejected the idea of repealing the section and suggested that it should be invoked when the intention behind any act is to disrupt public order or to overthrow the Government with violence and illegal means.

Free speech is one of the most significant principles of democracy. Whether the government decides in favour of repealing the law or not, the Supreme Court must take this endeavour to its logical conclusion. Even issuing strict guidelines to limit its indiscriminate use can definitely help India’s democratic stand as well as safeguarding freedom of expression.

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