Sedition law needs to be reconsidered
According to the central government, there is no need to constitute a larger bench to reconsider the sedition law. The Central Government has clarified before the Supreme Court that the 1962 decision on the Sedition Act is correct. Therefore, there is no need to constitute a larger Bench for reconsideration.
Recently, the central government has filed its clarification on the sedition law. In this, the central government has defended the punitive law on sedition on the grounds upheld by a constitutional bench of the Supreme Court.
Sedition is defined in Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 124A defines sedition as: “Whoever, by 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 shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added…”
It is a non-bailable offence.
In 1962, in Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the sedition law.
However, conditions were also laid for the use of this law, which are as follows:
- Criticism of the government cannot be construed as an offense of sedition unless there is an incitement or call for violence.
- It is often misused by using it as a means to suppress political dissent.
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report 2020, 70 and 73 cases were registered under this section in the year 2018 and 2020 respectively. But, no one could be convicted of this crime. In the year 2018, the Law Commission had suggested to retain this law with the following conditions.
- The word ‘sedition’ should be probed. Also, it should be seen that it can be replaced by any other suitable word.
- The possibility of ‘right to express displeasure’ as sedition needs to be examined.
- Safeguards against misuse of sedition law should be laid down.
Source – The Hindu