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Sedition Laws In India

In India's Constitution provides freedom to speak and express their views under Article 19(1)(a). But its exception is Article 19(2) which states that this freedom is not absolute and contains some reasonable restrictions. The term Sedition is the speech or conduct that results in revolt against the state and its authority. Law of Sedition deals with section 124A of IPC, 1860 and if often read with Article 19(2) of the constitution.

According to Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Sedition means:

Whoever, by words, 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 shall be punishable with life imprisonment
  1. Any words, which can be either written or spoken or signs which include placards/posters (visible representation)
  2. Must bring hatred/contempt/disaffection against the Indian Government
  3. Must result in 'imminent violence' or public disorder.

Sedition is covered in various laws like the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 124A). The Seditious Meetings Act, 1911, The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 95), The Seditious Meetings Act, 1911 & The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (Section 2(o) (iii)).

Famous Trials and cases of Sedition

In the case of Tara Singh v. State, the validity of Section 124A of the IPC was called into question and it curtailed the freedom of speech and expression and the East Punjab High Court declared this section void.

In the case of Jogendra Chunder Bose was an editor of Bangobasi. He was charged with Sedition for voicing against the Age of Consent Bill, 18 . Another trial was of 60 Kashmiri Students were cheering for Pakistan in a Cricket Match against India, they all were charged for sedition.

Balwant Singh and Anr v. State of Punjab , This case is of the assassination of Indira Gandhi, after which the accused raised the slogan Khalistan Zindabad outside a movie theatre . It was later held that two individuals casually raising slogans could not be said to be performing any act of disaffection towards the Government.

Exceptions of section 124A of IPC

  1. Improvement or alteration by lawful means with the disapproval of the measures of government.
  2. The strong words which are expressing disapprobation of actions of the Government and not encouraging those feelings which generate public disorder by acts of violence.
  3. To improve the condition of the people or to secure the alteration of those acts by lawful means without the feelings of enmity and disloyalty which involve excitement to public disorder or the use of violence.

Punishment for the Sedition Offence (124A IPC)

  1. It is a non-bailable offence
  2. Imprisonment up to three years to life the term, to which fine may be added.
  3. The person found guilty of this offence is not eligible for any government job.

This article was to make the citizens know about the rights that the law provides to citizens in respect of freedom to expression and the exceptions that can follow. This law helps in the stability of the elected government which could otherwise be attempted to be thrown out using illegal and violent means.It is an alignment with contempt of court. However it is also noted by the Supreme Court, views that are different from the government's don't mean seditious. Therefore, sedition laws can also lead to demotivating legal criticism also.

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