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Sedition

 Sedition 


Every citizen has been given freedom to speak and express their views under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. However, this freedom is not absolute and some reasonable restrictions have been imposed on freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(2). But when a person does an act by his words, signs or representation which is held to be contemptuous towards the Government of India, then such act is punishable under section 124-A of Indian Penal Code, 1860. Sedition is an offence that criminalizes speech that is regarded to be disloyal to or threatening to the state.


Law of Sedition

The term ‘Sedition’ means “conduct or speech which results in mutiny against the authority of the state”. Law of Sedition deals with section 124A of IPC, 1860, is considered as a reasonable restriction on freedom of speech. It was drafted by Thomas Macaulay and introduced in 1870.

The following points describe the origin of sedition law:

  • Origin of Sedition law in India is connected to the Wahabis Movement of the 19th century.

  • This was an Islamic revivalist movement and was led by Syed Ahmed Barelvi.

  • Since 1830, the movement was active but in the wake of 1857 revolt, it turned into armed resistance, a Jihad against the British.

  • The British termed Wahabis as rebels and carried out military operations against Wahabis.


What are the activities that are Seditious in nature?

In India, what constitutes as ‘Sedition’ is highly debated. As per the Indian Penal Code, for an act to be called “seditious”, it should have the following components:

  1. Any words, which can be either written or spoken, or signs which include placards/posters (visible representation)

  2. Must bring hatred/contempt/disaffection against the Indian Government

  3. Must result in ‘imminent violence’ or public disorder.[2]

As per the interpretation of the Court on Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 the following acts have been considered as “seditious”

  • Raising of slogans against the government – example – “Khalistan Zindabad” by groups. Raising of slogans by individuals casually once or twice was held not to be seditious. [3]

  • A speech made by a person must incite violence / public disorder for it to be considered as seditious [4]. Subsequent cases have gone to further interpret it to include “incitement of imminent violence”.

  • Any written work which incites violence and public disorder.



Sedition found in other Laws

The following are some laws which cover Sedition law:

  • Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 124A)

  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 95)

  • The Seditious Meetings Act, 1911 &

  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (Section 2(o) (iii)).


Defences Available to a Person Charged With Sedition

To get the exemption from Criminal Liability, the following are the defences:

  1. That he did not make the sign or representation or not speak or write the words, or not do any act in question.

  2. He did not attempt into the contempt or attempt disaffection.

  3. Such disaffection should not be towards the Government.


Sedition 

By- SHAMBHAVI

VIP-AUTHOR



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