Law Commission on Sedition
- June 2, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Law Commission on Sedition
Subject : Polity
- The Law Commission of India has recently released a report on sedition law, which is a colonial-era provision that criminalises any speech or expression that incites hatred or contempt against the government.
- The report has recommended that the sedition law should not be repealed but rather amended to make it more clear and more specific.
Some of the changes proposed by the report are:
- The definition of sedition should be narrowed down to include only those acts that involve violence or incitement to violence against the government or public order.
- The words ‘hatred’, ‘contempt’ and ‘disaffection’ should be replaced by ‘incitement to violence’ in Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with sedition.
- The burden of proof should be on the prosecution to show that the accused had the intention to incite violence or public disorder through their speech or expression.
- The courts should take into account the context and circumstances of the speech or expression, as well as its impact and tendency, before deciding whether it amounts to sedition or not.
- The Centre should issue model guidelines for police officers and magistrates on how to deal with sedition cases, such as requiring prior sanction from a senior official before registering a case, conducting a preliminary inquiry, and granting bail to the accused.
- The punishment for sedition should be reduced from life imprisonment to a maximum of seven years, with or without a fine.
- The report also highlights some landmark judgments of the Supreme Court and High Courts on sedition law, such as Kedar Nath Singh v/s State of Bihar (1962), Balwant Singh v/s State of Punjab (1995), Shreya Singhal v/s Union of India (2015), and Common Cause v/s Union of India (2016).
- These judgments have clarified that mere criticism or disapproval of the government or its policies does not amount to sedition unless it is accompanied by violence or incitement to violence.
- The sedition law under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been a subject of debate and controversy for a long time.
- The law was introduced by the British colonial government in 1870 to suppress the freedom movement and punish those who spoke or wrote against British rule.
- The law defines sedition as any act or attempt to bring into hatred or contempt, or excite or attempt to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India.
- The law has been criticized by many as being vague, draconian and against the fundamental right of freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
- The law has been used to arrest and prosecute activists, journalists, students, academics and others who have expressed dissenting opinions or criticized the government or its policies.
- The law has also been challenged in various courts on the grounds of being unconstitutional and violative of human rights.
- The Sedition law under Section 124A is a contentious and controversial issue that requires a careful and balanced approach. The law should not be used to stifle legitimate criticism or dissent, but it should also not be abolished or diluted to the extent that it becomes ineffective in dealing with threats to the unity and integrity of the nation.
- The law should be applied judiciously and sparingly, with due regard to the principles of natural justice and human rights. The law should also be reviewed and amended periodically to keep pace with the changing times and circumstances.