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Trial of Gandhi and Tilak under sedition law

Date: 19 July 2021 Tags: Bills & Laws

Issue

The Chief Justice of India has observed that the section 124A, sedition law, was used by British against Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

 

Background

A bench of Supreme Court headed by CJI Ramana has been hearing a petition that has challenged the sedition law.

 

Details

  • The petition was filed stating that the law is unconstitutional as it puts restrictions on freedom and fundamental rights given in the constitution.

  • The plea also accuses the law as against Article 19 (1) (a) of the constitution that gives freedom of speech and expression.

 

Challenges to sedition law

  • The sedition law has managed to survive even after many pleas that challenged its validity. The famous case related to the law was Kedar Nath Singh case.

  • The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the sedition law in the Kedar Nath Singh case. It however tried to curtail its misuse.

 

Origin of sedition law

  • The sedition law was introduced by the British government in 1870 to prevent dissent against its rule in India. It was enshrined under Section 124A of IPC.

  • Individual found guilty under the law will be imprisoned for life along with a fine or three years with a fine or without fine.

  • The main aim was to prevent inflammatory writings and speeches by freedom fighters and nationalists.

 

Sedition law against freedom fighters

  • Jogendra Chandra Bose was the first accused under the law for his newspapers in 1891. Other personalities include Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vinayak Savarkar, Tilak and Abul Kalam Azad.

  • Gandhi was charged under the law in 1922 for participating in anti-government protests. He was sentenced to six years in prison but was released early because of medical reason.

  • Tilak was imprisoned twice on sedition charges and tried three times. He had justified attack on British in his newspaper Kesari.

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