“Sedition law” needs relook, especially for media: Supreme Court

What is the News?

The Supreme Court of India has said that Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code that deals with sedition requires interpretation, particularly in the context of media freedom.

What was the case?
  • A petition was filed in the Supreme Court. It was after the Andhra Pradesh Police had registered a suo moto Sedition Case against two TV Channels.
  • These channels broadcasted programmes of a rebel Lok Sabha MP from the ruling party. They criticized the government and the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. So the sedition case was filed against these channels.
What did the petitioners argue?
  • The petitioners said that the case against them constitutes an attempt to silence the electronic media. They also argued the case as an assault on the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
  • Moreover, the allegations in the FIR do not establish any offences under the provisions which have been invoked against them.
What did the Court say?
  • The Supreme Court has restrained the Andhra Pradesh police from taking coercive action against two TV news channels charged with sedition. However, the court did not stay the investigation in the case.
  • Moreover, the court observed that there was a need to define the scope of offences under Section 124A (sedition) Section 153A (promotion of communal hatred) and Section 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.
    • This was especially needed in the context of media freedom and particularly on the issue of the rights of the press and free speech.
About Section 124A of IPC:
  • It is defined as any action that brings or attempts to bring contempt or hatred towards the government of India. Sedition cases are punishable with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
  • It is classified as “cognisable”(No need Court warrant to arrest the person) and a “non-bailable” and “non-compoundable” offence.

Source: Indian Express

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