On the 151st birth anniversary of Gandhi, let’s recall his views on sedition and the message about the importance of nonviolent resistance reflected through it. In the recent consultation paper on the sedition, the Law Commission has suggested invoking 124A to only criminalize acts committed with the intention to disrupt public order or to overthrow the Government with violence and illegal means. Yet, the message that it holds, not only with respect to the sedition law but for the importance of resistance at large, fails to register. There is no need for Section 124A. Bar representatives blame PPP, PML-N for not annulling Section 124-A of PPC One of the renowned lawyers of the country, Prashant Bhushan, also quoted Gandhi from the very same speech as the court was about to sentence him for contempt. In its 42nd Report (1971), the panel wanted the scope of the section to be expanded to cover the Constitution, the legislature and the judiciary, in addition to the government to be established by law, as institutions against which 'disaffection' should not be tolerated. These are sufficient for protecting the national integrity. The Law Commission has rightly said, "an expression of frustration over the state of affairs cannot be treated as sedition". The Constituent Assembly debated to include sedition as a ground for restricting free speech. -M K Gandhi. It was one of the many draconian laws enacted to stifle any voices of dissent at that time. Punishment under the Section 124A ranges from imprisonment up to three years to a life term, to which fine may be added. If the country is not open to positive criticism, there would be no difference between the pre- and post-Independence eras. According to Gandhi this section was “the prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.” In his speech at the trial, Gandhi said, “Affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by law. Recently, a lower court in Bihar directed the filing of an FIR under section 124A (Sedition) of IPC against 49 eminent persons who signed an open letter to the Prime Minister of India expressing concerns over mob lynching. Students Sparks Row, UP: Kanpur’s Tattered Tanneries Tell Tale of Government Apathy and Neglect, JNU’s Contractual Staff Unpaid for Months; University Says Salary could be Released before Dussehra, Bihar Elections: BJP Promises Free COVID-19 Vaccines, Opposition Hits Out at #VaccinePolitics. If one has no affection for a person or system, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection, so long as he does not contemplate, promote, or incite to violence.” The British government in India had brutally used this law to suppress the emerging anti-colonial movement in India. Section 124A is a relic of colonial legacy and unsuited in a democracy. From Our Archives: Some of the sedition cases in recent years reveal how the law is used to target voices speaking against the government. He said “I do not ask for mercy, I am here, therefore, to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is deliberate crime, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen.”, For latest updates on nCOVID-19 around the world visit our. These groups openly advocate the overthrow of the state government by revolution, Against this backdrop, the abolition of Section 124A would be ill-advised merely because it has been wrongly invoked in some highly publicized cases. However, the section should not be misused as a tool to curb free speech. The data released by the National Crime Records Bureau for the year between 2014 and 2016 reflect the disutility of the law for the criminal justice system. Click here for Online Inquiry form to join Drishti IAS programmes, Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies, This sentiment (and law) was borrowed and inserted into the. A wide and concentrated executive discretion is inbuilt into it which permits the blatant abuse. Freedom of speech often poses difficult questions, like the extent to which the State can regulate individual conduct. Bidar Sedition Case: Two women spend more than 14 days in custody, The Sedition Trial Of Investigative Editor Dhaval Patel, Sedition charges against 51 including transgender activist for chanting pro-Sharjeel slogans. Sedition law part of colonial legacy: legal experts. Dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of robust public debate in a vibrant democracy. However, comments without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, will not constitute an offence under this section. Even if the letter is considered hateful of the government, if it did not incite violence, it is not seditious. They should not be constructed as sedition. In its 39th Report (1968), the Law Commission had rejected the idea of repealing the section. In recent times, there has been an increase in the instances in which sedition charges were pressed against intellectuals, human rights activists, filmmakers, university teachers, students, and journalists. Between 2016 to 2018 there were only four convictions. Mahatama Gandhi, too, was later tried for sedition for his articles in Young India. For reprint rights: Syndications Today, Use and Misuse of Sedition law: Section 124A of IPC, Use and misuse of Sedition law: Section 124A of IPC. Hundred years since this trial, Section 124A still survives in India’s penal code. It was first used to prosecute Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1897. Sedition is a non-bailable offence. Section 124A was inserted in 1870 by an amendment introduced by Sir James Stephen when it felt the need for a specific section to deal with the offence. All rights reserved |, Quick Book: Environment and Ecology - English medium. The SC caveat, given in Kedar Nath case, on prosecution under the law can check its misuse. Here’s what historians say, Spotlight On Pangong, China build-up now clear in Depsang, Good news: Meet Ramagiri Swarika who has inscribed Bhagavad Gita on grains of rice, Image of the day: Kolkata decks up for Durga Puja, 'Dekh Bihar mein ee baa': Bihar election campaign turns into rap battle, Flood situation grim in Hyderabad, Telangana CM announces immediate financial help, Bengaluru riots: Call records reveal Congress's Sampath Raj in touch with other accused, Crime Branch probes Bengaluru riots case, names former mayor Sampath Raj in chargesheet, Hathras: CBI team to study police's case diary, Army foils Pakistan's attempt to smuggle weapons in Kashmir, Copyright © 2020 Living Media India Limited. The terms used under Section 124A like 'disaffection' are vague and subject to different interpretation to the whims and fancies of the investigating officers. In Australia, following the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) the term sedition was removed and replaced with references to 'urging violence offenses'. It talks about the relevance of Sedition law. In August 2018, the Law Commission of India published a consultation paper recommending that it is time to re-think or repeal the Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code that deals with sedition. Data shows that sedition cases have increased in recent years. 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India is the largest democracy of the world and the right to free speech and expression is an essential ingredient of democracy. However, no charge sheets were filed by the police in over 70% of the cases, and only two convictions during this time period. Covid pandemic offers a chance to construct better buildings for future. Mumbai: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday filed a charge-sheet against eight people, including activis, New Delhi, Oct 9: The National Investigation Agency has arrested 83-year-old tribal, In the aftermath of the brutal rape and murder of a dalit woman in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, the crackdown on the dissenting voices continu. The constitutionality of sedition was challenged in the Supreme Court in Kedar Nath Vs State of Bihar (1962). Section 124A was inserted in 1870 by an amendment introduced by Sir James Stephen when it felt the need for a specific section to deal with the offence. It is a constraint on the legitimate exercise of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression. If Gandhi termed section 124A of IPC the prince among the laws designed to suppress liberty, one wonders what he would think of laws such as Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) under which scholars and activists continue to be detained without trial. Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. But will we? In these cases, the court held that a law which restricted speech on the ground that it would disturb public order was unconstitutional. The charge against him was of “bringing or attempting to excite disaffection towards His Majesty’s government established by law in British India.” Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, a criminal code drafted and enacted by the British colonial government about half a century before this trial, criminalised any speech that incited or attempted to incite ‘disaffection’ against the government.
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