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Current Affairs

Sedition issue

Date: 07 October 2019 Tags: Bills & Laws

Issue

As many as 49 celebrities who penned an open letter to the Prime Minister on the growing incidents of mob violence and religion based lynching have been charged under sedition.

 

Background

Sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that tends toward insurrection against the established order.

Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent towards, or resistance against established authority.

 

Sedition in India

  • Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code lays down the punishment for sedition. The Indian Penal Code was enacted in 1860, under the British Raj. Section 124A forms part of Chapter VI of the Code which deals with offences against the state.

  • The then British government in India feared that Muslim preachers on the Indian subcontinent would wage a war against the government.

  • Throughout the Raj, this section was used to suppress activists in favour of national independence, including Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi, both of whom were found guilty and imprisoned.

  • The section kept drawing criticism in the independent India as well for being a hindrance to the right to free speech.

Applicability

A person, who 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 can be charged under sedition.

  • Explanation 1.—The expression “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.

  • Explanation 2.—Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.

  • Explanation 3.—Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.

Drawbacks of Sedition law

  • The Section 124A  has come under criticism at numerous intervals, being singled out for its curbing of free speech.

  • The law is  used  to instil fear and intimidate people who protest against authority including the political opposition.