IPC Section 124 (A) Law Of Sedition- Power & Misuse

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In India, Sedition is a word that people are hearing and reading about quite often for the past few years. Journalists, student leaders, social activists are booked under this section. Also, recently Supreme Court raised concern about the use of this section of IPC (Indian Penal Code). The CJI (Chief Justice Of India) N V Ramana heading the three-judge bench said, “Sedition is a colonial law. It suppresses freedoms. It was used against Mahatma Gandhi, Tilak…Is this law necessary after 75 years of Independence?”

According to IPC section 124 (A) Sedition- Whoever by words either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representation, or otherwise brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt or excites disaffection towards the government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life to which fine may be added.

From the meaning itself, it is clear that it is a draconian law and the alarming fact is its been in use very frequently in the democratic country of India. According to the latest report released by the home ministry, 326 cases and 6 convictions were reported in 6 years between 2014-2019.

Shashi Tharoor, Rajdeep Sardesai, Mrinal Pande, Vinod Jose, Zafar Agha, Paresh Nath, Anant Nath were booked under section 124 (A) on January 26, 2021, during the peaceful farmers protest that later turned out to be violent. Protesting tribal farmers were also accused of sedition however later with the change of government in the state charges were dropped.

Late, Jesuit priest, Stan Swamy for whose death many considered ‘system’ responsible, was also charged with sedition for his Facebook posts in2018.  JNU student Sharjeel Imam is also arrested under Sedition law for his speeches during anti CAA- NRC protests.  This provision was induced to arrest Siddique Kappan, a journalist who tried to cover Hatras rape case, Disha Ravi- environment activist, Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, etc.

Thus, it is been observed that whosoever tries to raise their voice against the government its policies and laws are tried to suppress using this stringent law. Democracy gives the right to the people to question the government and government is indeed answerable but the central government model of work is ‘One Way’ they pass the law but does not take into consideration the opinion of people for whom the law or policy is made.

On one hand, the prime minister says to ask, to criticize the government it’s the sign of healthy democracy but when actually one does that the person is charged with Sedition hence the misuse of law immensely unhealthy for democracy.

The courts too shall well interpret the case as section 124 (A) can also become unconstitutional in view of article 19 1 (a) (Right to freedom of speech and expression) of the constitution. The court should accordingly be cautious while applying section 124 (A).

As thus interpreted by the supreme court any personal criticism of the members of the government or people in authority would not be an offence under section 124 (A).