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Recently, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister directed state police to file sedition charges against those celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India in the recent T20 World Cup match.
The sedition charge under IPC Section 124-A has now been added against the students and they earlier faced charges under IPC Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between groups), 505 (1) (B) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to any section of the public) and 66-F of the Information Technology Act.
About Sedition Law:
=> The sedition law, enshrined in Section 124A of IPC, was introduced by the British government in 1870 to tackle dissent against colonial rule.
=> Section 124A states: "Whoever, 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 shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine."
=> In the 19th and 20th centuries, the law was used primarily to suppress the writings and speeches of prominent Indian nationalists and freedom fighters.
=> Trials of Tilak and Gandhi
Arguments For Section 124A:
=> Section 124A of the IPC has its utility in combating anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements.
=> It protects the elected government from attempts to overthrow the government with violence and illegal means.
=> The continued existence of the government established by law is an essential condition of the stability of the State.
=> Many districts in different states face a Maoist insurgency and rebel groups virtually run a parallel administration. These groups openly advocate the overthrow of the state government by revolution.
=> Therefore, there is a need to retain the provision to effectively combat anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements.
=> The plea had contended that the provision which was used by the British against Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak is still being “grossly abused” to stifle freedom of speech and expression of those who choose to express dissent against policies of the Governments in power.
Arguments Against Section 124A:
=> Mahatma Gandhi called Section 124A “the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen”.
=> Jawaharlal Nehru said that the provision was “obnoxious” and “highly objectionable”, and “the sooner we get rid of it the better”.
=> It is a constraint on the legitimate exercise of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.
=> Dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of robust public debate in a vibrant democracy.
=> The British, who introduced sedition to oppress Indians, have themselves abolished the law in their country.
=> There is no reason why India should not abolish this section.
=> The sedition law is being misused as a tool to persecute political dissent. A wide and concentrated executive discretion is inbuilt into it which permits the blatant abuse.
=> India, being the largest democracy in the world, has to ensure its essential ingredients of free speech and expression. The expression or thought that is not in consonance with the policy of the government of the day should not be considered sedition.
=> The Law Commission has rightly said, "an expression of frustration over the state of affairs cannot be treated as sedition". If a nation is not open to positive criticism, there would be no difference between the pre-and post-Independence eras.
=> It is also essential to protect national integrity. Given the legal opinion and the views of the government in favour of the law, it is unlikely that Section 124A will be scrapped soon. However, it should not be misused as a tool to curb free speech.
By: ASRAF UDDIN AHMED ProfileResourcesReport error
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