~ Yashika Manchanda
In recent times, many public figures were charged of Sedition. Most of you surely had heard about the Journalist Vinod Dua case of Sedition. Firstly, Sedition is basically any statement, gesture or act against the current government of a nation. Sedition is defined under Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which states – “ 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 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”.
ORIGIN OF SEDITION
The Indian Penal Code, 1860 is a law made at a time when Britishers used to rule in India and we are still following the same law today. Even there are other countries who are the following the same law as of India because Lord Macaulay had drafted it so well. But the provision of sedition was added in 1870 by Sir James Stephen. Maybe it was needed at that point of time for the smooth functioning of the country by the British Government.
WHY IT IS STILL PREVAILING?
The offence of Sedition is still prevailing where we have a democratic nation and liberty to speech as our fundamental right. As we know that our Country is a secular nation and the government can comprise of a leader belonging to only one religion at a time. Nobody has more than one religion, either people convert to other religion or follow no religion. The people not belonging to the religion of the leader, might misunderstand the ideas or schemes of the Government and can spread hatred against the government and a situation of communal crises is possible. Maybe this is the reason behind the prevalence of the offence of sedition in today’s era. In order to maintain peace in the nation, it is necessary. But at the same time, the Government should be open to positive criticism also.
THE SUPREME COURT in Kedarnath v. State of Bihar (1962), said that any person can be prosecuted for the offence of Sedition only when his/her words are capable enough to disturb the peace in order to incite for violence.
The SC stated very well in the light of the offence of sedition. If the Government is not open for the positive criticism then there is no difference between pre and post Independence times. But it is unlikely that the section will repeal soon or any clause is added to that. However, the offence of sedition should not be used as a method to take the right to speech from the citizens.
Source : indiatoday.in, Bare Act(IPC)
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