• Offence related to the conduct or speech that is inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or government.
• Punishable under Section 124A of IPC, 1860.
Section inserted to IPC in 1870.
Intent of the section – To punish an act of exciting feelings of disaffection towards the government, with disaffection being
distinguished from disapprobation.
Differentiation important for freely voicing feelings against the government
as long as they obey govt.’s lawful authority.
Issues with Sedition law
• Low conviction rate under the section 124A IPC.
Failure to convict due to lack of evidence.
• Vague definition, especially of the term disaffection – Difficult to differentiate disaffection and disapprobation.
Leads to simple criticism being construed sedition – Suppressing dissent.
• Affects fundamental right of freedom of speech.
Free speech – Most significant principle of democracy, human right,
Yardstick used for distinguishing harm is to be ‘high’.
Reality – Both ‘provocative’ and ‘innocuous’ speeches or writings treated as same.
Judicial interpretations enables it to continue.
Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar, 1962 – SC attempted an attenuated interpretation of the provision.
Upheld the validity of section 124A.
Not sedition – As long as the criticism or comment of a
citizen does not incite people to violence against the
Government established by law or with the intention of
creating public disorder.
‘Public disorder’ considered to be a necessary ingredient
of section 124A IPC by the courts.
Author – Lessened the severity of the section –
Restriction imposed on free speech could not be declared
• Misused by the police or govt.
Criminalise strident political criticism and
accuse as being ‘antinational’.
3 political reasons:
a) To suppress criticism and protests against particular policies/projects of the government.
b) To criminalise dissenting opinion of rights defenders/lawyers/activists and
c) To settle political scores.
• Relic of colonial legacy and is unsuited in a democracy.
• Recent development –
Supreme Court and CJI – Indicated their intention to reconsider the sedition
Might lead to new guidelines and safeguards for using section 124A
• Section 124A should be struck down.