The Sedition Law: Indian Penal code against Constitution of India

Posted on July 31, 2012 in Society

By Anjum Dhamija:

India, a sovereign socialist democratic republic, with a population of over 1 billion today, cherishes a history of independence gained 65 years ago. The architects of our current constitutional framework imbibed the spirit of freedom from every aspect of life in a free country. Among several fundamental rights, a rather powerful one is the right to expression i.e. freedom of speech. In a democratic country being run by representatives of the people, by the people and for the people, every citizen has a right to put forth his opinions, ideas, and grievances.

This is what I used to think till a few days ago. Then I came across Section 124A of Indian Penal Code which defines the Sedition Law. This law doesn’t poke its nose into every expression of yours; it simply puts a blot on the right to freedom of speech by considering it a criminal offence to express and also, propagate among others any kind of disaffection for the government. What a tight slap on the face of democracy!

This law came to India during the British rule and was a tool to keep everything under control for the welfare of British Empire. That makes sense because they were nowhere related to the people they were ruling. Had it not been for the strong expression and aggression of our freedom fighters, we might have been bearing the drudgery of colonialism even today. Just to remind, the voice was raised not against the people, but always against the ruling cohorts. Even after such a historical experience, the Indian Penal code validates the sedition law. It is not just another redundant law, but is in practice with full force. Just two years ago, Dr. Binayak Sen, the human rights activist was put to trial under Sedition law. It was a sheer display of loose ends of our Indian laws which can be easily misused to suppress the strong voices of our society.

Well, I think I might be going against our core framework, so I should keep myself politically correct. Yes, I am against the sedition law, because it endangers anyone who is trying to pick up the flaws in current state of affairs. The calmness which this law wants to maintain in our society has a very thin line relationship with the righteousness which every citizen wants to be proud of. So, why isn’t a clause added to stop the propagation of ill-feelings based on falsehood? That would be required to tame the groups which are trying to make use of ignorance of crowds but, at least let the truth prevail. However, validation of true and false is also necessary. We all need to think.

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Karmanye Thadani

am a lawyer and I think the author has misinterpreted Section 124A of the IPC.
Freedom of speech and expression, as enshrined in Article 19(1)(a) of the
Indian constitution is subjected to reasonable restrictions mentioned in
Article 19(2) of the very same constitution, and Article 19(2) mentions that
restrictions on the ground of the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of
India, the security of the State, public order or incitement to an offence, can
be imposed. Criticizing the government doesn’t come under Section 124A (to be
fair to the British, it wasn’t even then) but to undermine the rule of law or
promote an agenda of secession or a violent overthrow of the existing
constitutional setup would amount to sedition. Freedom of speech and expression
can only survive in a democracy, and to allow this right to go unfettered so
that it undermines its own basis (democracy) would be unwise. Also, Binayak Sen
wasn’t booked under Section 124A of the IPC but under the the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act
and Chhattisgarh Special Public Security
Act. I have read several articles of yours and liked them, and please take this constructive criticism in the right spirit. Kindly check your facts before posting something for public readership.

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