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News: India is often referred to as the world’s largest democracy. However, even a mild form of constructive criticism could interpretatively fall within the penal ambit of Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code.
What is Sedition Law?
|Must read: Sedition Law in India (Section 124A IPC) – Explained, pointwise|
About the history of Section 124-A
It was originally introduced in British India by Lord Macaulay in 1837 as Section 113 of the then draft Indian Penal Code (IPC). It was at first omitted in the actual Act passed in 1860. Then law member in the Viceroy’s Council, Sir James Stephen, stated that the omission of Section 113 in the penal code was erroneous. It was introduced as Section 124-A in the IPC as a “corrective measure” in 1870.
Stephen while introducing Section 124-A said that in the absence of such provisions, this offence would be penalized under the more severe common law of England, which could result in transportation for life.
Despite severe opposition, the provision managed to remain decidedly in place after 1947. The provision was also reinforced during the tenure of the Indira Gandhi government by the conversion of the offence into a cognizable one.
|Read more: Successive reports of the Law Commission have reported the rampant misuse of the Sedition law|
What are the Judicial interventions on Sedition?
There are many instances of the law being invoked on flimsy grounds. In a recent judgement by the Supreme Court held that “Everything cannot be seditious. It is time we define what is sedition and what is not.”
A statistical analysis of registered sedition cases published by the National Crime Records Bureau between the years of 2014 and 2018 clearly shows a stark increase in such cases.
|Read more: Judicial interventions on Sedition law in India|
There is a need for legislative intervention that clearly redefines the parameters by which something amounts to a ‘seditious act’ under Indian law is unquestionable.
|Read more: The sedition law must go|
Source: The post is based on the article “Sedition needs a clear definition for it to be retained in law books” published in “Livemint” on 28th June 2022.