Law of Sedition In India | Meaning | Ingredients | Case Study
Law of sedition in India
In general language, sedition means any conduct or speech which incites people to rebel against the government, any authority in a state or a monarch. Section 124A of Indian penal code states Sedition as whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to 3 years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
Here, Sedition is nothing but libel(defamation) of the established authority in a country i.e., government. It designates those activities of a man whether by words, or deeds, or writing, which are calculated to disturb the tranquility of the state and lead people to subvert the government established by law.
Ingredients of sedition are:-
- Bringing or attempting to bring into hatred; or
- Exciting or attempting to excite disaffection against the government of India;
- Such act or attempt may be done (a) by words, either spoken or written, or (b) by signs, or (c) by visible representation; and
- The act must be intentional.
The word hatred implies ill-will, while contempt implies a low opinion. It may be created by writing, imputing to the government base, dishonorable, contemptuous or malicious allegations against the government or accuses the government of hostility or indifference to the welfare of the people.
Disaffection includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. when any person urges people to rise against the government or try to excite the feelings of disloyalty in their minds against the government.
The law of sedition in India has assumed the controversial importance largely because of change in the body politic and constitutional provision of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed as a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution.
In the case of Tara Singh v. State of Punjab AIR 1951 EP 27, Section 124A of Indian Penal Code was struck down as unconstitutional being contrary to the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression.
While some people are of the view that Section 124A is constitutional and does not contravene Article 19(1)(a). Article 19(2) of the constitution mentions the expression ‘in the interest of public order’, which is of wider connotation and will cover any law enacted in the interest of public order.
In the case of Kedar Nath v. State of Bihar AIR 1962 SC 955, the court held that any law which is enacted in the interest of public order may be saved from the vice of constitutional validity.
The provision of sedition was introduced for the first time in the Macaulay’s Draft Penal Code, 1837. It is a provision that was often used by the Britishers to suppress any kind of voice against the British rule in India thus, suppressing the mutiny against the government. Because of this provision, no one dared to speak against the government from the fear of being landing in jail. The provision of sedition has grown into a weapon in the hands of politicians which needs to be curtailed, parliament should give a thought about the pros and cons of this provision and should come to a sound conclusion regarding the provision of sedition.
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