Scrap sedition: There’s no point trying to mend this broken law. It’s an anti-constitutional provision that must go

News: The Supreme Court has resumed its hearing of petitions seeking the scrapping of the sedition provision in IPC. This comes at a time when this colonial era law is becoming a major threat to political and personal freedoms.

Why sedition law must be scrapped?

Section 124A IPC punishes words or actions that attempt to incite hatred, contempt and disaffection towards governments with three years to life imprisonment.

“Hatred”, “contempt” and “disaffection” are such broad phrases that even legitimate criticism or dissent can earn a sedition charge. Not surprisingly, hundreds of dissenters over the years have paid a heavy price after being falsely accused of “deshdroh”.

Political rivals are being targeted by the governments by prosecuting their thoughts and words. This same tactic was used by British imperialists to silence freedom fighters, like Tilak and Gandhi.

The 1962 Kedar Nath Singh judgment has failed to achieve its objective of narrowing down sedition to offences betraying an “intention” and “tendency” to cause public disorder or endanger state security. Repeated emphasis by the SC and high courts that criticism of governments isn’t sedition has gone unheard, too.

Sedition cognisable and non-bailable. Further, it doesn’t require an actual crime to have been committed. Not surprisingly, sedition has been invoked against writers, cartoonists, politicians, and even ordinary citizens like the thousands of villagers who agitated against the Koodankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu.

There is now a growing trend of private complaints of sedition, where any motivated individual can lodge a sedition complaint and make life hell for people not even remotely connected to the complainant. This must also be noted by SC.

Way forward

Britain, which gifted India sedition, removed it from the country’s statute in 2009. SC should do the honours for India and scrap the sedition provision.

Source: This post is based on the article “Scrap sedition: There’s no point trying to mend this broken law. It’s an anti-constitutional provision that must go” published in The Times of India on 25th Apr 22.

Print Friendly and PDF