Why in News?
As per National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports, Assam recorded the most number of Sedition cases in the country in the last eight years.
What are the Findings of the NCRB?
- Out of 475 sedition cases registered in the country between 2014 and 2021, Assam accounted for 69 cases (14.52%).
- Haryana reported the second-highest number of such cases (42 cases) after Assam, followed by Jharkhand (40), Karnataka (38), Andhra Pradesh (32), and Jammu and Kashmir (29).
- Across the country, authorities registered 76 sedition cases in 2021, showing a marginal increase from the 73 cases registered in 2020.
- States and UTs that did not register even one sedition case in that period were Meghalaya, Mizoram, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, and Puducherry.
History of Law Of Sedition
- “Action or speech that leads to revolt against the authority of the state” is what is meant by sedition. The IPC’s Section 124A, which addresses the Law of Sedition, is viewed as a reasonable restriction on the right to free expression. It was initially exhibited in 1870 and Thomas Macaulay invented it.
- The section was first included to address the growth of Wahabi activity between 1863 and 1870. The colonial authorities faced a difficulty as a result of these actions.
- Indian nationalist leaders were involved in some of the most well-known sedition cases of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- The earliest of these was Jogendra Chandra Bose’s trial in 1891. He served as the newspaper Bangobasi’s editor. He published a piece denouncing the Age of Consent Bill for endangering the faith and its coercive treatment of Native Americans.
- In 1897, Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s articles in Kesari were the subject of legal action.
- The other well-known case included Mahatma Gandhi’s 1922 sedition trial. Sedition, according to Gandhi, is “the prince among the political sections of the IPC meant to destroy the freedom of the citizen.”
What is sedition
As per Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, sedition is when a person brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt, or which excites disaffection or attempts to do so towards the government of India by way of words (written or spoken), signs, visual representation, or any act.
As per explanation 1 of the section, the term “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. Enmity is hostility or ill will between persons.
With the judgment of the Supreme Court in Kedarnath Singh v. State of Bihar (1962), the offence of sedition is applicable only if it is accompanied by incitement or a call for violence. Hence, one should read Section 124A with Kedarnath Singh’s judgment, and authorities will apply sedition charges only if it leads or is likely to lead to “public disorder” or “violence.”
Punishment for sedition
As per section 124A, punishment for sedition is to be one of the following:
- Imprisonment for up to 3 years
- Imprisonment for life
- Imprisonment for life along with fine
- Imprisonment for up to 3 years along with fine
- Only fine
The judge presiding over the trial proceedings makes the decision regarding the quantum of punishment to be awarded to the convict.
124A IPC Case Laws (Supreme Court and High Courts)
|Queen v. Jogendra Chandra Bose ILR 19 Cal 35|
|Queen v. Balgangadhar Tilak ILR 22 Bom. 112|
|Q.E. v. Ambika Prasad ILR 20 All. 55.|
|Niharendra Dutta Majumdar AIR 1942 FC 22 at 26|
|Emperor v. Sada Shiv Narayan AIR 1943 PC 82|
|Ramesh Thapar AIR 1950 SC 124|
|Brij Bhusan AIR 1950 SC 129|
|Kedarnath Singh AIR 1962 SC 955|
|Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1867) 22 Bom. 112|
|Niharendra Dutta Majumdar (1942) FCR 38|
|Sadashiv Narayan (1947) 49 Bom. L.R. 526|
|Ram Nandan v. State IR 1959 All 101|
|B.G. Tilak (1867) ILR 22 Bom 112|
|Satyendar Nath Mazumdar v. Emp. AIR 1931 Cal 337|
|Surendra Narayan Adicharya (19110 39 Cal 522|
|Kshiteesh Chandra Roy v. Emp. AIR 1932 Cal 547|
|Bhaskar (1906) 8 Bom. LR 421|
|Arjun Arora v. Emp AIR 1937 All. 295|
|Dhirendra Nath Sen, (1938) 2 Cal 672|
|Suresh Chandra Sanyal (1912) 39 Cal 606|
|Chunni Lal (1931) 12 Lah. 483|
|Alexander M. Sullivan *1868) 11 Cox 44 at 51|
|Apurba Krishna Bose (1907) 35 Cal 141|
- Section 124A of the IPC has its utility in combating anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements. However, dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of robust public debate in a vibrant democracy. People should not construe them as sedition.
- The higher judiciary should use its supervisory powers to sensitize the magistracy and police to the constitutional provisions protecting free speech.
- Authorities should narrow down the definition of sedition to include only the issues pertaining to the territorial integrity of India as well as the sovereignty of the country.
- Civil society must take the lead to raise awareness about the arbitrary use of Sedition law.
Frequently Asked Questions about Sedition Law in India
Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, states that a person commits sedition when he/she uses words (spoken or written), signs, visual representation, or any act to bring or attempt to bring hatred, contempt, or excite disaffection towards the government of India. The term “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.
Thomas Macaulay initially introduced the sedition law (Section 124A) in 1870 to address the growing Wahabi activity between 1863 and 1870.
The colonial authorities faced challenges due to these actions. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Indian nationalist leaders later became involved in some of the most well-known sedition cases.
Sure, some prominent historical sedition cases in India include:
Jogendra Chandra Bose’s trial in 1891, who served as the editor of the newspaper Bangobasi and published a piece denouncing the Age of Consent Bill.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s trial in 1897 for his articles in Kesari.
Mahatma Gandhi’s sedition trial in 1922, where he described sedition as “the prince among the political sections of the IPC meant to destroy the freedom of the citizen.”
Sedition Law (Section 124A)