Sedition Law

Sedition law was incorporated to IPC in 1870 as fears of possible uprisng plagued the colonial authorities. most of thus penal code was retained after 1947, drafted by  Thomas macaulay, originally to deal with wahabi activities
what is sedition ? 
  • section 124 of IPC defines sedition as : whoever by words spoken or written brings or attempt to bring hatred or contempt in to the govt and law;  or  excite or attempt to excite disaffection to govt established by law


  • the complaints of sedition of speech that hurts the community are brought before police
  • NCRB report: 77 sedition cases in the two years preceeding JNU incident 
  • section 124-A has extended it to faraway places:  kudankulam village sedition case for resisting nuclear project , adivasis of jh resisting displacement 
Draconian laws such as section 124-A only serve to give legal veneer to the regime’s persecution of voices and movements against oppression by casting them as anti-national
SC ruling : 1953 kedarnath singh case ; Supreme Court held that only a “violent revolution” against the government attracts the charge of sedition.” A free expression of disapprobation against the ruling government’s action with an intention to better the condition of the people is not treason, it had held.
Time to scrap these?
  • misuse of the laws to be struck down on the ground of violation of art 19 (1)(a) , but most of the provisions have already been validated
  • Section 295A : (“deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs”):  Ramjilal Modi case (1957)
  • Section 124A (sedition) : Kedarnath case (1962)
Short term measures 
  • speech related offences to be made bailable , lessen the harmful impact
  • offences should be made non-cognisable so that there is judicial check on police acting on the basis of politically motivated complaints
  • In the case of hate speech, it is important to raise the burden of proof on those who claim that their sentiments are hurt rather than accept them at face value
  • it is crucial that courts begin to take action against those who bring malicious complaints against speech acts.

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