Government’s Stand on Sedition Law:
- The Union Government has held that, A 1962 Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court, which upheld the validity of the sedition law, “must be treated as a binding precedent” that has withstood the test of time.
What does the law say (IPC 124A)?
- “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 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.”
- For far too long, the sedition legislation has been a source of contention. Governments are frequently chastised for using Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to prosecute vociferous critics of their policies.
- As a result, this Section is viewed as a restriction on people’s freedom of expression, and it falls short of Article 19’s limits on justifiable restrictions on freedom of speech.
- Since the colonial British overlords enacted the statute in the 1860s, it has been the subject of heated discussion.
- Several prominent liberation fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, were charged with sedition.
Why is it required?
- The law prohibits anti-national, separatist, and terrorist elements from disrupting public order, inciting violence, and inciting hatred.
- It contributes to the stability of an elected administration that may otherwise be deposed through illegal and violent means.
- It is comparable to contempt of court. The executive branch includes the elected government. As a result, government contempt can be checked.
Why opposition to the law?
- Because the seeds of sedition law were established during colonial times, it is frequently portrayed as a harsh regulation that can be utilised to curtail constitutionally given freedom of speech and expression.
- It is detrimental to constructive criticism. Views that differ from those of the government are not always seditious, as the Supreme Court has stated. As a result, sedition laws have the potential to demotivate legitimate criticism.
- The Sedition Act was repealed in the United Kingdom in 2009, thus India should be done with it as well.
- The IPC and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 2019 both feature provisions that can be used to punish anyone who disrupt public order.
Source: THE HINDU.
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