27th January 2023

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Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition challenging the validity of Section 124A of Indian Penal Code criminalizing sedition. A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said the petitioners were not affected parties and had no reason to act to challenge the impugned provision.

  • The petition filed by three advocates Aditya Ranjan, Varun Thakur and V Elanchezhiyan argued that the Sedition Act is a colonial relic that was used by the British against Indian freedom fighters such as Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
  • It is now used to suppress freedom of speech and expression and threaten the lives and freedoms of Indian citizens if they choose to voice their disagreement against the policies of the ruling government, the statement said.
  • The petitioners argue that a colonial provision such as Section 124A, which sought to subjugate subjects of the British crown, should not be allowed to endure in a democratic republic, under the ever-expanding scope of fundamental rights.
  • The petitioners alleged that the indiscriminate and unlawful use of section 124A against journalists, women, children, students and others poses a clear challenge to the interpretation of the provision given by the Supreme Court of India.
  • According to the petition, maintaining a draconian colonial provision such as Article 124-A without the corresponding guarantees provided for in the UAPA is unreasonable and unjustified.
  • The reason establishes that the law does not establish any institutional responsibility of the police for abuse and that there are no procedural guarantees under the Code of Criminal Procedure unlike the UAPA.
  • Therefore, the petitioner prayed to repeal section 124A or, in the alternative, to give strict instructions to the central and state government to ask their respective police chiefs to follow the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court in the case of Kedar Nath and Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab.

What is the law of sedition?

Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with sedition, was drafted by Thomas Babington Macaulay and included in the IPC in 1870. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was introduced by the British Raj in 1870.

  • In the 150 years that have passed since then, this draconian colonial relic, which even the British have now abolished, has been misused; more so after independence.
  • The frequency of its widespread use as a weapon of political repression against many people, including adolescents in recent times, is staggering. Indictments have only been filed in a small percentage of cases, and no more than a handful have resulted in a conviction upheld by higher courts.
  • This should be reason enough to remove Sec 124A. However, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon with this vindictive tool taking on a “nationalist” flavor to indiscriminately quell even legitimate critiques of the government and ruling politicians, for whom Sec 124A was never intended. in the first place.
  • The British introduced this law to crush the struggle for freedom and terrorize those who might “wage war” on the government. Under section 124A, sedition is a felony without bond, punishable by up to three years in prison for life.
  • Sedition is when “any person by words, whether spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to arouse discontent with the government established by law in India.
  • “A person charged under section 124 cannot hold government office, is deprived of a passport and is required to appear at all times when required.
  • The most famous victim of Sec 124A, tried in 1897, was Lokmanya Tilak for his writings in his journal Kesari. He was sentenced to prison, as was Mahatma Gandhi for his writings in Young India.
  • Such cases have reinforced the perception that this law was intended to muzzle free speech and intimidate government critics and activists. The character of government changed in 1947, but its propensity to use this law remains unchanged.

What does article 124 A say?

Article 124A of the CIP, which deals with sedition, establishes: “Anyone who, by word, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to arouse hatred or contempt, or excites or try Those who excite discontent with the government established by law in India will be sanctioned with life imprisonment, to which will be added a fine, or imprisonment of up to three years, to which may be added a fine, or a fine. “

Penalty under section 124A

Sedition is a non-punishable offense. The penalties provided by law range from imprisonment of up to three years to life imprisonment and a fine. A person charged under this law cannot apply for government employment. They must live without their passport and must appear in court when necessary.

“the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the freedom of the citizen.

Mahatma Gandhi on Article 124A
  • Jawaharlal Nehru said that the arrangement was heinous and highly reprehensible, and that the sooner we get rid of it the better.
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