×
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Supreme Court move to examine sedition law welcome

The proposed provision is actually more draconian than what the British designed for their Indian subjects as it has a wider scope and prescribes more stringent punishment for the offence.
Last Updated : 14 September 2023, 23:39 IST
Last Updated : 14 September 2023, 23:39 IST

Follow Us :

Comments

The Supreme Court has done well to refer Section 124A of the IPC, commonly referred to as the sedition law, to a Constitution Bench, refusing to accept the government’s suggestion that it should wait for parliament’s decision on the Bhartiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, which is proposed to replace the IPC. The new bill is under the consideration of a parliamentary panel. The court rightly observed that cases under Section 124A would continue to exist even if the new code does not provide for sedition charges. Prosecutions under Section 124A, which were put on hold by the court in 2022, would persist even if the new law was passed. The court observed that the new law would apply to only future cases and so the constitutionality of the existing IPC Section would still have to be decided.  

Substantially also, the proposed law will not make a difference. It has dropped the word sedition but not the idea of sedition. According to Section 150 of the new code, citizens can be proceeded against for words, gestures, actions, etc., which endanger the “sovereignty, unity and integrity of India,” in place of the IPC provision against creating disaffection against “the government established by law,” a colonial-era construct. Under the IPC, criticism of the government could be considered sedition, and critics could be booked for it. This has often happened, especially under the present government, and is likely to happen even more frequently under the proposed law, too. The proposed provision is actually more draconian than what the British designed for their Indian subjects as it has a wider scope and prescribes more stringent punishment for the offence. In this, the government has followed the Law Commission’s wrong recommendation to make the sedition law stronger, and has done it without using the word.

That is why the Supreme Court’s move to comprehensively examine the provision is welcome. The court has said that it was not examining the provision under the new code because it is not yet the law. It said the five-judge bench would re-examine the 1962 Kedar Nath Singh judgement which upheld Section 124A but limited its applicability. Significantly, the court said the new bench would evaluate the judgement in light of the right to life (Article 21) and the right to equality (Article 14) and the advancements made in recognising and evolving new rights since 1962. So, it is clear that the court proposes to examine sedition in the context of citizens’ rights. It will hopefully lead to the end of the sedition law in any guise which can be misused by the government. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Published 14 September 2023, 23:39 IST

Follow us on :

Follow Us

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT