Sunday, 23 January 2022

Sedition by kanishq dhas

 The growing concern over the section 124A of the IPC is noticeable. This section of the Indian penal code talks about sedition a crime punishable by life imprisonment in India. The concern about this section is its age of origin and its applicability in today’s age. This section was drafted in the Indian penal code by Babington Macaulay in 1870, back when India was a British colony, governed by a imperialist set of laws forced to oppress the people of British colonies. This was a law only set on citizens who belonged to the colonies, this law helped suppress any rebellious activities in the time against the monarchy. But the issue today arises when we still have such an old law in today’s operation and in a different kind of government all together. Laws made for the benefit of a monarch, surely cannot be suitable for a democratic state. 

     Section 124A of the IPC, which deals with sedition, states, "Whoever, 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."

     The misuse of this section is rampant in today’s government. Mahatma Gandhi called Section 124A “the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen”. Jawaharlal Nehru said that the provision was “obnoxious” and “highly objectionable”, and “the sooner we get rid of it the better”. But in July 2019 Nityanand Rai, minister of state

 for home affairs, told the Rajya Sabha

 that “there is no proposal to scrap the provision under the IPC dealing with the offence of sedition. There is a need to retain the provision to effectively combat anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements. 

  

   There have been several growing instances where this section has been weaponized and used against political rivals to suppress free speech. The infamous example would be of Kanhaiya Kumar from Uttar Pradesh who was charged with sedition and was said to have been stirring up dislike for the government. Almost of his allegations were based on facts and truth, although he was looking for answers where he found doubt and shady behaviour it didn’t stop the government to charge him with sedition for his right to free speech. This section and the freedom of speech cannot coexist peacefully, they are the exact opposite to each other when it comes to speech about the government. 

     

     While questioning the continuity of the “colonial-era” sedition law on 15 July, Chief Justice N.V. Ramana expressed his concern over its misuse. He said, “The use of sedition is like giving a saw to the carpenter to cut a piece of wood and he uses it to cut the entire forest itself.” His statement and several recent judgements of the highest court have sparked a rousing debate around sedition law and its widespread misuse by state authorities.

 

     The sedition law was used by the British to suppress dissent and imprison freedom fighters such as Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak who criticised the policies of the colonial administration. After Independence, the constitution framers had devoted considerable time to weigh in on various aspects of this colonial law. One of the most vehement critics of the sedition law was K. M. Munshi who argued that such a draconian law is a threat to democracy in India. He argued that, “as a matter of fact the essence of democracy is criticism of Government.” It was due to his efforts and the persistence of the Sikh leader Bhupinder Singh Mann that the word sedition was omitted from the Constitution.

 

     


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