Section 124 A :John Stewart Mill once said: “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”
- This is the importance of individual freedom of expression in society. The Indian Constitution guarantees this freedom of expression for Indian citizens so that they can realize their potential and achieve their highest self.
- It It also protects the state from infringing on this right of individuals. The Indian judicial system is the provider of guarantees and remedies for any arbitrary administrative restrictions on these rights. When the state invades this area to protect itself from judicial review, the problem is Appeared.
- This is due to various oppressive and retrogressive laws that allow the country to be capricious. The issue under Section 124-A is a law that currently needs to be fully discussed. This colonial era law was used to restrict people’s freedom.
- It was also used in the same way in independent India. The only difference was the nature of the country. We need to understand the history of this law, how its application has caused problems for innocent people, and why it should be removed from Indian criminal law.
What is 124 A Sedition?
According to Article 124A of the IPC, when anyone provokes or attempts to provoke hatred or contempt through words or other means, or provokes or attempts to provoke dissatisfaction with a government established by law, it constitutes the crime of sedition.
The explanation added to the clause states that although “dissatisfaction” will include infidelity and all hostility, comments that do not arouse or attempt to arouse hatred, contempt or dissatisfaction will not constitute a crime.
For crimes that cannot be released on bail or accumulate in accordance with the law, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment, with or without a fine. Persons charged under the law cannot hold government positions.
They must live without a passport and must appear in court whenever necessary. This version was not part of the original IPC promulgated in 1860; it was introduced in 1870, when it was said that it was mistakenly deleted from the original IPC draft.
The Origin of the Modern Indian Sedition Law This law was originally drafted in 1837 by the British political historian Thomas Macaulay, but was inexplicably omitted when the IPC was promulgated in 1860.
Deal with specific parts of the crime. This was one of many strict laws promulgated to quell any dissent at the time. The famous sedition trial during the independence movement helped to suppress nationalist voices and demands for freedom-a long list of Indian national heroes served as defendants in the case.
The insurgents included Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh and Jawaharlal Nehru. After the Privy Council found Tilak guilty of sedition, Tilak was sentenced to six years in prison for writing an article in his newspaper Kesari under the heading “The Shame of the Country.”
Constitutional Validity of Section 124 A?
The Supreme Court challenged the constitutionality of sedition in Kedar Nath against Bihar (1962). The Constitutional Court of the Supreme Court ruled in the Kedar Nath case that any act of “subverting the government” by violent means or creating public disturbances falls within the definition of incitement.
The court ruled that opposing government measures for the purpose of improving or changing government measures through legal means is not sedition.
He argued that “expressing opposition to government actions without arousing emotions due to the tendency of violent behavior to disrupt public order, no matter how powerful a comment,” will not cause a criminal offence.
The actions of the government or its affiliates to improve the conditions of the people or to ensure that these actions or measures are cancelled or changed by legal means, that is, they do not cause those feelings that suggest hostility and disloyalty to disturb the public or use violence”, not Sedition.
Citizens have the right to criticize or comment on the government or its measures to publish or write what he wants, as long as it does not incite people to the government established by law or intends to create disorderly arguments for the public to support Article 124A This type of behavior is necessary to combat separatist tendencies, separatism and activities.
Sovereign countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and other democracies have such provisions in their criminal codes. The freedom of speech in a country is not about dissemination. Dissatisfaction permits, therefore, the sedition law helps to reduce it.
Revolutions that try to overthrow the government, calls for independence of Kharistan or Kashmir, and other brutal propaganda that do not conform to protected speech, and have the ability to refute the legitimacy of an elected government.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly pointed out that the mere possibility of abusing a clause does not in itself invalidate the legislation. In this case, the vulnerability only extends to “operations” rather than “parts.” Arguments against Section 124A For decades, successive governments have used colonial-era sedition laws—the terrible section 124a of India’s outdated Criminal Code—to deal with students. ,
Journalists, intellectuals, social activists and government critics. The law is specifically designed to instill fear and intimidate protesters against authority. This is a restriction on the legal exercise of freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution.
The people who incited the rebellion and oppressed the Indians themselves had abolished the laws of their country. The term “dissatisfaction” used under Article 124A is vague and will be interpreted differently due to the whims and fantasies of investigators. Sanctions that “disrupt public order” or “overthrow the government by violent and illegal means”.
These are sufficient to protect the integrity of the country. Section 124A is not required. Sedition laws are being abused as a tool for prosecuting political dissent. In 1979, India ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which established internationally recognized standards for the protection of freedom. expression. However, allegations of abuse of sedition and arbitrary slaps are not in line with India’s international commitments.
Reasonable restrictions provided under Article 19(2)
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, Sections 121,122,123,131,141,143,153-A, Contempt of Court Act, 1971 and Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, provide more than enough safeguards for acts likely to come under Sedition. Then why is a draconian law of pre-independence era, under a false pretence, being used to hound the populace of an independent and democratic country. It is ironic that the country, England, which planted the seeds of S.124-A on Indian Soil, has since long repealed the same out of the fear of being associated to draconian laws./Section 124 A/
S.124-A violates one of the basic facets of a democracy i.e., holding a government accountable. In a country where citizens cannot voice the criticism of their government’s actions, demand accountability, raise questions and point at wrongdoings cannot, be a functional democracy. Citizens cannot be lulled into a false sense of security to enforce their fundamental rights and then be prosecuted for doing the same.
This section is the fine line between a democratic and an authoritarian government and one incident in a charged political climate can change the setting. We must keep in mind that S.124 does not only violate freedom of speech but also aids the government in nakedly disenfranchising it political rivals and critics. As citizens, it is our responsibility to be aware of such political abuse and it is our duty to guard our own freedom.
What could be the Way forward ?
As long as sedition is seen as a reasonable restriction on free speech on the ground of preserving public order, it will be difficult to contain its mischief./Section 124 A/
There are thus two ways of undoing the harm that sedition provision does to citizens’ fundamental rights:
- It can be amended so that there is a much narrower definition of what constitutes sedition
- The second and best course is to repeal the section altogether/Section 124 A/
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