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Section 124A Should the Sedition Law be Amended or Repealed by the Parliament - A question to be answered

- Aniruddha Mukherjee, National Law University, Odisha

The act of sedition is defined by the conduct of speaking or writing or by any other visible, or understandable means promotes or tries to promote any sought of hatred or feelings of disaffection in the mind of people for government established laws. In context of Indian law it is mentioned in Section 124A of IPC that “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 disaffection towards the government  established by law in India shall be punished with imprisonment to life with which fine may be added or with imprisonment which may be extended to three years  with fine  or it may be imposed later”. It can be clearly understood from the above-mentioned words it is classified as a heinous offence moreover the person charged with this is barred from getting a government job and they also have to live without their passport and have to appear before court when required. This article also discusses about the historical prospective of the law and also will talk about the international scenario comparison of this law and in addition to that it focusses on the judicial approach and also many other aspects of this law and also in conclusion will try to answer the question above mentioned.

Historical Background of the law:
The sedition law was initially drafted in the law commission report by Lord Macaulay in the year 1837 keeping it under section 113 in that report but it was omitted from the IPC when it was enacted in 1860 but it was later introduced in the 1870s when they felt the need of dealing with the act has to be formed with a broader aspect so to deal with the crime of sedition against the ruling in question. This law was primarily formulated to get hold off  the speeches or expression of the people who said to be spreading enmity or disaffection towards the government in the mind of the people .Many prominent leaders who were fighting for the  independence of the country became the victim of this law namely Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gandhi and many others have been brought in front of the court by the government for various seditious act done against the British empire. Briefly talking about the trials of these person are to be discussed here in this article. The trail of Tilak was the first to be mentioned. The main question that was raised before the court that some speeches made in the newspaper referring Shivaji planning to murder Afzal khan had led to an instigation to the incident of murder of  the plague commissioner Rand and lieutenant Ayherst who were killed when  they were returning from the dinner party held for celebration of diamond jubilee of the queen. He was charged for sedition and was sentenced to imprisonment for six months. He was defended by many people including Jinnah and many others but his bail was denied and he was sentenced to jail for six years. Similar thing happened with Gandhiji during his trail of sedition. The trail of Gandhi could be considered as a historic trail in India. The question raised by Gandhi was not one to be arising that the feeling of disaffection was there in the mind of his. He pleaded guilty for this and this trail became historic.

Comparative International scenario: 

The sedition laws in other countries are implicated in many other countries namely America, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, UK and many other Countries. Mainly talking about two most prominent countries USA and UK it can be seen that the laws of sedition are entirely applied on a very technically in USA under section 2385 of the US code it is mentioned that it is unlawful to support or advocate the decorum of overthrowing the government but there in USA this law is rarely applicable for freedom of speech. So here we can clearly see that application of this law in this country is very technical as it does not curtail the freedom of speech of the people and it does also not enforce its claws to choke the right to freedom of speech of people. In UK the law is a bit liberal to its citizens as it was abolished in the year 2009 as the parliament thought to do away with it because it was mainly formulated to protect the crown from any kind of conspiracy against the crown but it is still applicable for the outsiders. So,we can clearly see that the law of sedition law in these countries are applicable in a very different way in both of them.

Right to dissent vs sedition law:

The sedition law is a colonial hangover for the Indians when it was formulated in 1890 as it is laid emphasis on the word’s disaffection, hatred. It can be clearly understood that the law is only meant to protect the kingship of the ruling class in India where the people were arrested on the basis of words and actions of people herein misusing it to the fullest and the situation worsen with the passage of time and it was a tool devised for curtailing the right to freedom of speech and the court implicated on the  incitation of violation is the main ingredient of the law. In modern days the right to freedom of speech is a major element of the country this law is often misused by many politically and overenthusiastic investigation agencies and many times manipulated in many cases and in 80% to 90% cases stands on trial. The sedition law is itself is a question is a in context of the IPC as the right to descent and sedition law will always matter of debate in present context.


The right to descent and sedition law will always be the question. We could always say that the greater interest of the citizen should be viewed in context as if it is to be implicated it should be said that  the misuse of the law should be  curtailed as the right to freedom of speech should not be guillotined for its implication as the right of the citizen is guaranteed by the constitution and the supreme court is the guardian of them and if the rights are choked then the interest of public is to be followed at lastly for country’s betterment. We could conclude that if sedition law is to be implicated then we can be in danger if the right to freedom of speech should not be in danger if it was to be in danger then the question of law needs to be answered without any question of doubt to ensure the constitutionality of any law that is to be implicated in the country widely.


• http://<live law/sedition law/amp/article ofseditionlawimplication>as accessed on 15th April 2020
• http://< amp/use and misuse of sedition law> as accessed on 15th April 2020
• http://<www.youthkiawaz/amp/theblurlinebetweensedition lawandrightof descent> as accessed on 15th April 2020