September 24, 2022

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

326 SEDITION CASES WERE FILED DURING 2014-19

image_pdfPDFimage_printPrint

THE CONTEXT: A total of 326 cases were registered in the country under the controversial colonial-era penal law on sedition between 2014 and 2019 in which just six persons were convicted

Analysis

  • The Supreme Court last week observed that Section 124A of the IPC — offence of sedition — has been enormously misused.
  • It asked the Centre why it was not repealing the provision used by the British to “silence” people like Mahatma Gandhi to suppress the freedom movement.
  • According to the Union Home Ministry data, a total of 326 cases were registered under the sedition law between 2014 and 2019, with the highest 54 cases in Assam.
  • Out of these cases, charge sheets were filed in 141 cases while just six people were convicted for the offence during the six-year period.
  • In Assam, out of the 54 sedition cases registered, charge sheets were filed in 26 cases and trials were completed in 25 cases. However, there has not been a single conviction in the State in any of the cases between 2014 and 2019, the data say.
  • Jharkhand has registered 40 cases under Section 124A of the IPC during the six years. Charge sheets were filed in 29 cases and trial was completed in 16 cases in which just one person has been convicted.
  • In Haryana, 31 cases were registered under the sedition law in which charge sheets were filed in 19 cases.

WHAT IS SEDITION

  • Classified as a crime in India since 1870, sedition has been defined under Section 124A of Chapter VI of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. This Section says that whoever, by spoken or written words, signs, etc. excites or attempts to excite hatred or disaffection towards the Government of India is said to have committed the crime of sedition

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF SEDITION

  • Essential to protect and preserve the stability of the Government, integrity and security of state.
  • Insurgencies, rebel activities of groups like Maoists advocate armed violence to overthrow Indian State.
  • The supreme Court has upheld its Constitutional  validity in Kedarnath Vs State of Bihar, 1962
  • If there can be Contempt of Court, then Contempt  of Government established by law is also justified
  • Misuse of Law is not a ground for its abolition.

 

ARGUMENTS AGAINST SEDITION

  • It’s a colonial tool for oppression of the freedom movement. Has no place in modern democracy.
  • The terms like: Disaffection” is vague and is open to multiple subjective interpretation resulting to false cases.
  • It has a chilling effect on Freedom of Speech and Expression and creates an atmosphere of Self-Censorship.
  • Contempt of Court is a reasonable ground to  restrict FR under Art 19(2) unlike Sedition
  • The law has been abused to silence voices critical of the government. The conviction under sedition is very low .It indicates motivated arrest under sedition.
  • CONCLUSION: A delicate balance with our ‘Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression and the need for Security and integrity of state need to be maintained. While no citizen should be allowed to spread unnecessary hatred among the masses and incite violence against the Government (especially in a country founded on the principles of non-violence) every citizen should also possess the freedom to express their views on the Government. The Law Commission’s 2018 report suggests reforms in sedition law to prevent its misuse and abuse and the reforms in sedition law can begin from there.
Spread the Word