Constitutional Validity of Sedition Under the IPC
Thomas Babington Macaulay wrote Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPS).
Despite being associated with the Indian Freedom Struggle, it has been
recognized as English law for centuries. This part was used to undermine the
liberation cause against freedom fighters like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma
The first trial for sedition was held in the matter of Queen v. Jogendra
Chandra Bose in the Bangabasi case (1891). For a long time, there was
a lengthy dispute over the abuse of Section 124A and whether or not this clause
should be ruled illegal.
It's worth noting that Britain eliminated the clause dealing with sedition in
2009, although India has Section 124A in the Code. Other democratic countries
dealing with sedition laws, such as Australia, Canada, and Ireland, have deemed
it undemocratic when such laws become barriers to freedom of speech and
SeditionUnder Section 124A of IPC, Sedition is defined as a cognizable offence, non-bailable,
and will be tried before the Court of Session. The Section 124A of IPC reads as:
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 or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government
established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to
which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years,
to which fine may be added, or with fine.
This is useful in the fight against separatist, anti-national movements, and
terrorist factors, among others. It defends the elected government against
attempts to destroy it through the use of violent acts and illegal methods.
Maintaining the legitimacy of the legally created government is a crucial
prerequisite for a state's coherence. If contempt of court leads to criminal
charges, then contempt of government should lead to criminal charges as well.
Constitutional Validity of SeditionThis law has constantly been criticized for restricting our "freedom of
expression" several times. It is also argued to be unclear how it has been
sustained in a secular and independent country with democracy. Regardless, in
the landmark case of Kedar Nath v State of Bihar, it was found to be
Later explanations were given stating that criticism of public measures or
comments on the actions taken by the government as strongly worded as they would
be shall be under a reasonable limit and would go hand in hand with the
fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression.
In another judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Balwant Singh and Anr. Vs.
The state of Punjab that was booked under the violations of raising slogans like
"Khalistan Zindabad" was stated as unsustainable as these slogans neither had an
intention to encourage people or create a nuisance or create any problem to the
law and order.
There was a dispute regarding whether Section 66-A of the Information Technology
Act, 2000, deprives individuals of their right to free speech and expression in
this age of technology when every remark and every point of view on any issue is
accepted. This was highlighted by Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India where The
court declared Section 66-A illegal and detailed several criteria for
determining when speech and expression limitations are fair or fall within the
bounds of Article 19(2) of India's constitution. The courts also ruled that
legislation that transmits such a message is unconstitutional.
Sharjeel Imam v State of NCT of Delhi (10th July 2020), who was arrested
in a case related to alleged inflammatory speeches made by him during protest
rallies against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of
Citizens in 2019, has been trying to get bail but has been unable to do so due
to the punishment he faces and the offences committed.
Disha Ravi was detained by Delhi Police in connection with a toolkit on farmer
demonstrations in early 2021 during farmer protests. She was charged with
sedition, inciting hatred, and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code.
Rajat Sharma and Neh Srivastava have launched a Public Interest Litigation
against Farooq Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, over
his comments on the Centre's decision to repeal Article 370. According to the
petition, Abdullah discussed "restoring Article 370" with the "assistance of
Even if sedition is constitutionally permissible, it raises the question of
whether Section 124A of the IP imposes a fair restriction on citizens' right to
free speech and expression as granted by Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian
Constitution. Freedom of speech and expression is a basic right in a democratic
country like India, and limitations must not go beyond the eight areas protected
by Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution.
Without a question, sedition is a divisive term that must be cautiously balanced
against our constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression. While no
citizen should be allowed to stir unwarranted animosity among the public or
instigate violence and hatred against the administration, every citizen should
be allowed to freely and openly voice their views on the government.
In some circumstances, Indian judges' perspectives and how the law is applied
conflict, prompting some to call the law "draconian" in its interpretation. It
may be the appropriate time to explore reforming this rule in an era where
individuals are becoming increasingly conscious of their rights and individual
liberty, as well as a developing feeling of responsibility and duty in our
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