The recent instance of invoking sedition laws in several instances has again raised questions on the undemocratic nature and validity of those laws within the present constitutional democracy. It is said that these laws have survived the demise of colonial rule. The analysis of the appliance of the sedition laws by the assorted courts of India shows how they need become outdated for the present society and there are various recommendations for its application. during a democratic country like India, all citizens have the basic Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. Although reasonable restrictions to such rights allow the law of Sedition, the extent of such law may be a question of prime importance. In our country where Rule of Law prevails, arbitrary charging someone for the offense of Sedition is an act, which isn’t in sync with constitutionalism.
This is an endeavor in bringing together all the debates of repealing and amending these laws. The existence of this law in our statute books and its criminalization seems unjustified in our democratic society.
The recent incident of invoking sedition charges against the JNU students has another time given fuel to the continuing debate on the validity of the laws regarding sedition. within the era of 21st century, India is standing at the door of becoming a developed country that has undergone drastic changes as a rustic from the time of colonialism. Indian legislature has made immense progress covering various fields of legislation. For the event of a nation, the law isn’t the tool for development indeed an honest law is that the tool for development. Most the laws that India has today either belong to the colonial time or have their roots from that period. Out of those laws, many were implemented only for the oppression of the Indian ‘subjects’ but unfortunately, they have found their place within the post-independence period also and became a matter of great controversy similar to the laws referring to sedition.The laws referring to sedition has been given various interpretations and implications since independence to create it pass the test of constitutionality but it still acts as a curbing force against the liberty to form free speeches and has become a weapon for several present days governments who use it for the oppression of the citizens similar to the pre-independence rulers. This law was implemented for a special purpose by the rulers of the colonial regime and that they find no relevance within the present-day society. The analysis of the applying of the sedition laws by the assorted courts of India shows how they need become outdated for this society. The an objective which is sought by the appliance of the sedition laws can easily be achieved by other laws which are enforced within the country and there’s no special aim which the law achieves. Hence, there’s a necessity of scrapping off the laws associated with sedition or they have heavy amendments by the legislature.
Statutory provisions governing sedition in India:
The word sedition has not been defined within the Constitution of India or any statutes. However, the word ‘Sedition’ has been used because the marginal note of Section 124A of I.P.C. The Section penalizes bringing or attempting to bring into hatred or contempt, or exciting or attempting to excite disaffection towards the govt established by law in India. Section 95 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (“Cr PC.”) gives power to the govt. to forfeit material punishable under Section 124A of I.P.C. on stating grounds. This section features a two-fold requirement. Firstly, the fabric should be punishable under Section 124-A and secondly, the govt must give reasons for its opinion to forfeit the fabric so punishable.
The modern definition of sedition:
The constitutionality of Section 124A was again challenged before the Supreme Court which gave it the interpretation which is followed even today also. The court interpreted it following the lines of the case Niharendu Dutt Majumdar vs. King-Emperor and laid down that incitement to violence is to be considered as a necessary element for an act to be seditious. Thus, sedition was to be seen as a criminal offense against public tranquility and not against the law that was directed against the very existence of the state. There are six grounds in Article 19(2) and therefore the court thought that ‘security of the state’ could be the possible ground that would save the constitutionality of Section 124A. While interpreting the availability, the Supreme Court applied the principle that when quite one interpretation could also be given to a legal provision, it must uphold that interpretation which makes the provision constitutional. Any interpretation that renders the supply unconstitutional must be rejected. Thus, the court laid down that although the section doesn’t suggest such a requirement on the face of it, it absolutely was held to be mandatory that any seditious act must be accompanied by an endeavor to incite violence and disorder. The Court favored the appliance of laws regarding sedition for public peace and security of the state
“The sedition law needs reconsideration”- Dr. Justice (Retd.) Balbir Singh Chouhan. Ever since from the time the law of sedition originated in England, there have always been discrepancies in its application with the application being uncertain and non-uniform in all cases. Initially, its application was kept vague and uncertain because it was used for the oppression of masses as and when it suited their interests and undermined their authority. It was used as a weapon for the fulfillment of political motives by curbing speeches which threatened the authority of the state.
India, today as a democratic state needs to overthrow this narrow approach of not tolerating healthy criticism also and it is high time that legislature and judiciary come up with newer reforms that either scrap off the laws relating to sedition or amend it in such a way that it is no more arbitrary and can be applied uniformly. This rule of the colonial regime should no more be used to curb the rights of the citizens in its present form. Every individual has a right to criticize the government in a democratic state and hence doing so should not be regarded as “anti-national” and he should not be termed as a “traitor” as criticism is not seditious as involves no incitement to violence. Criticism is the basis of democracy and hence sedition laws need to be changed for the smooth functioning of the democracy.
Article by: Raunak Mishra, 2nd year BBA LLB, Amity University, Lucknow.
Indian penal code by KD Gaur
Constitutional law in India, MP Jain
Law commission of India 42nd report
Sedition law needs to re-look: Balbir Singh Chauhan, Law Commission chief, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, (Mar. 22, 2016)