Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Daily Mains Question 9th April 2020

“Sedition law is considered to be against constitutional principles” Critically analyze.

 

Answer

The Section 124A of Indian Penal Code defines sedition as conduct or speech that is against the authority of the state.  It was drafted by Thomas Macaulay and introduced in 1870. As per National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the number of sedition cases has increased in recent years.

Reasons why Sedition law is against the constitutional principles: 

  1. In Tara Singh v. State, the East Punjab High Court held that section 124-A has no place in a new democratic setup and this section curtailed the freedom of speech and expression, which is in article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
  2. Dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of robust public debate in a vibrant democracy. They should not be constructed as sedition. Right to question, criticize and change rulers is very fundamental to the idea of democracy.
  3. Sedition law is damaging one’s reputation in the society. It may cancel the sedition person’s passport and also make him/her ineligible for government job.
  4. Mahatma Gandhi called Section 124A “the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen”.

Benefits of Sedition law

  1. It protects the elected government from the attempts to overthrow it with violence and illegal means.
  2. Internal security threats: India still faces grave security threats like Naxalism and Insurgency in several states.  These threats are also present at ideological level i.e. ideas promoting Left extremism and secession.  To curb these threats Sedition law is required Section 124A of the IPC has its utility in combating anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements.
  3. The court had significantly reduced the scope of sedition law. In the Kedar Nath Singh case (1962 ), Supreme court upheld the validity of Section 124-A but laid down that a person can be charged with sedition only if there is incitement to violence in his speech or writing or an intention or tendency to create disorder or disturbance of law and order.

As the Supreme Court said sedition law is not a bad law but misusing the law is bad and moreover, modern democracies like the UK, US and New Zealand have completely repealed it. India can either repeal it or dilute the law concerning its effect on the constitutional principles.

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