SEDITION, MEANING AND LAWS IN INDIA ON LAWKARO
MEANING OF SEDITION
Sedition is the act of inciting opposition to or rebellion against the lawful authorities.
SECTION 124-A OF IPC TALKS ABOUT SEDITION
The IPC Section A, Section 124A states, "Whoever, by words whether written or spoken or through signs or any other visible representation, or in any other way, brings about or attempts to create disdain or anger or causes or attempts to provoke anger towards the government created by the law of India will be punished with life-long imprisonment with a fine that can be added. Or with imprisonment that can be extended to 3 years, an additional fine may be imposed, or even with a fine only."
WHAT IS DISAFFECTION WITH THE GOVERNMENT MEANS?
Disaffection or can be defined as disloyalty and feelings of hatred.
WHAT IS NOT AN OFFENCE WITHIN THE DEFINITION OF SEDITION?
- However, if comments criticize government actions, they are aimed at legally modifying them, i.e., "Comments that express disapproval of the government's policies to change them through legal methods, without exaggerating or trying to provoke anger, disapproval or contempt."
- If comments criticize the government's administrative decisions without provoking any feelings of hate, comments that express disapproval of a government's administrative or other government decisions without provoking or inciting anger, disdain or hatred.
PUNISHMENT FOR THE SEDITION OFFENCE UNDER IPC, 1860
- It is a crime for which bail is very difficult to secure.
- Three-year imprisonment up to a term of life and a fine can be added.
- If a person is found guilty of this crime, he/she cannot be considered for any government position.
WHAT IS THE LAW ON SEDITION, AND WHY THE APEX COURT'S NEW DIRECTIONS ARE CRUCIAL?
The Supreme Court issued a directive to the central government to hold in abeyance the pending trials, appeals and other proceedings related to the charges framed under section (124A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which is the one that is the law that governs the offence that is sedition until the central government has completed the promise to review and revise the law.
The central government initially defended the colonial clause and later told the court of supreme appeals that it was examining it.
WHAT IS THE LAW ON SEDITION IN INDIA?
Section 124-A defines sedition to mean: "Whoever, by words or writing or with signs or any other visible representation or any other means, brings or attempts to create anger or disdain or rouses or attempts to provoke discontent against the government that is authorized by law will be punishable with life imprisonment."
HISTORY OF SEDITION LAW IN INDIA EXPLAINED WITH INSTANCES
- British colonial rulers brought the law on sedition into force in the 1860s.
- 1890 saw the first-time sedition was added as an offence under section 124-A IPC by the Special Act XVII.
Since its inception, this law was a source of controversy, as it was employed to control the freedom movement and imprison those who opposed it. According to the law, freedom movement leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Bal Tilak Gangadhar were all arrested.
In a landmark decision of the Kedar Nath case on January 20, 1962, the SC confirmed the constitutionality of the law on sedition but also tried to limit the possibilities of its misuse. The ruling stated that any criticism of government officials could not be classified as sedition unless words are meant to disturb public peace through violence. Kedar Nath Singh was an active part of the Forward Communist Party. At a gathering in Bihar in 1953, Singh said the following: "The dogs of the CID are in the streets. We'll kick and put out those Congress dooms," many reported.
Following the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984, people had raised the slogans "Khalistan Zindabad" and "Raj Karega Khalsa". The SC, in 1995, dismissed the sedition charges, stating the "raising some slogans only a couple of times by the two lonesome appellants, which neither evoked any response nor any reaction from anyone in public, cannot attract the provisions of Section 124-A."
PEOPLE WHO ARE CHARGED WITH SEDITION
An activist for the environment from Bengaluru, aged 21, Disha Ravi, was detained at the hands of police from the Delhi Police on February 14 2021. He was accused of making a "toolkit" on the farmer's protests against the agricultural laws.
In 2016 a group of pupils from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) were invited to a poetry workshop to commemorate the third anniversary of the hanging 2001's Parliament attack case that convicted Afzal Guru. The Delhi Police later arrested them and charged the students with sedition, reported many.
In a landmark decision of the Kedar Nath case on January 20, 1962, The SC upheld the law's constitutionality on sedition but also sought to limit the possibilities of its misuse. The court ruled that mere criticism of the government can't be classified as sedition unless words are meant to disturb the public's peace by violent means. Kedar Nath Singh was an active participant in the Forward Communist Party. In a gathering in Bihar in 1953, Singh stated that: "The dogs of the CID are in the streets. We'll take them out and throw them out, "Congress Goondas" reported many sources".
LANDMARK SEDITION CASES IN INDIA
The first case to challenge the legality of section 124A's validity came from Ram Nandan vs State of Uttar Pradesh (1958). The Section 124A provision of the I.P.C. is, as per the Allahabad High Court, extremely void and violated the provisions of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The constitutionality of Section 124-A has been litigated before a Supreme Court Constitutional bench in Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar (1962), in which the main issue was the fact that Section 124-A conflicted with the Article 19(1)(a) in the Indian Constitution. In the case, the Supreme Court ruled that no sedition offence is defined under Section 124-A unless the remarks, whether written or spoken, could disrupt or disturb public order using violence. This decision overruled the ruling by the Allahabad High Court. There is no crime of sedition unless the comments could cause violence.
In the wake of this ruling in 1995, it was decided that the Supreme Court ruled in 1995 Balwant Singh and Anr vs the State Of Punjab (1995) that simply chanting slogans like "Khalistan Zindabad," "Raj Karega Khalsa," and such did not amount to sedition as there was no proof or evidence that violence took place regardless of the slogans being shouted in public places.
This legal principle has been reiterated in various cases, such as those in Bilal Ahmed Kaloo v State of Andhra Pradesh (1997) and Common Cause v. Union of India (2018). In each of these cases, the Supreme Court instructed the courts to be cautious when deciding on sedition allegations, and the courts were told to follow the guidelines laid out by the Kedar Nath case. It was also reiterated that sedition charges couldn't be filed solely for expressing criticism of the policies or policies of the government.
VINOD DUA V. UNION OF INDIA (2021) - FACTS
The activities that are aimed at or are likely to disrupt or disturb the public's peace by resorting to violence, in the opinion of the Supreme Court of India, will be punished. Based on the evidence in the case, the Court decided that the statements used by Vinod Dua could be best-considered expressions of disapproval for actions implemented by the government and its officials for the present crisis to be solved quickly and effectively. They were not designed to inspire others or display an inclination to cause disturbance or disrupt the public's peace with the use of violence.
RAJAT SHARMA V. UNION OF INDIA (2021): FAROOQ ABDULLAH'S ARTICLE 370 COMMENT
In an interview in the year 2000, Farooq Abdullah had remarked, "whatever they are doing at L.A.C. in Ladakh is all because of the abrogation of Article 370, which they never acknowledged," I hope this year that Article 370 will be reinstated in J&K with their assistance". Abdullah was known to have discussed "restoring Article 370" with "China's support," according to Rajat Sharma and Neha Srivastava's petition. Abdullah previously said on The Wire that the Kashmiri people don't feel or wish to be Indian and prefer to be ruled by the Chinese. According to petitioners, this statement was an infliction of seditiousness, and they claimed that they were punished according to Section 122-1 in the India Penal Code, 1860 for Mr Abdullah. They further asserted that Abdullah was attempting to persuade people in Jammu and Kashmir "to join China" based on a statement given by B.J.P. spokesperson Sambit Patra, who had declared “that people in Jammu and Kashmir do not feel that they are Indians."
ZAKIR HUSSAIN V. U.T. OF LADAKH (2021): GALWAN VALLEY CONFLICT
On June 18, 2020, the J&K police issued an F.I.R. against Zakir Hussain and partner Nissar Ahman Khan for an audio file that was viral and contained an unpalatable conversation that denigrates India's military, which was filmed amid the backdrop of fighting among the Indian Army and Chinese army troops in the Galwan Valley of Ladakh. The video was extremely offensive, with insulting remarks about the involvement of the Indian Army in the Chinese Armed Forces' Galwan mishap. The petitioner had claimed at J&K High Court that the police could not make an F.I.R. as the law states that the Court can only be notified of an F.I.R. filed to a district magistrate following the Section 191 in the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (CrPC). No complaint had been filed in this case.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE JAMMU AND KASHMIR HIGH COURT
Due to the complexity of the matter. Due to the complexity of the situation, the Court set two questions of a moot issue that had to be resolved in the decision:
What is the true meaning and scope of Sections 124-A and 153-A, 153-B and 505(2) of the I.P.C. in the view of Article 19(1) in the Indian Constitution?
An F.I.R. may be made to commission crimes covered by Sections 124-A and 153-B, 505(2) or 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.) without the prior approval of the appropriate authorities following Section 194 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
THE HONOURABLE HIGH COURT ISSUED THE FOLLOWING OPINIONS IN LIGHT OF THE CASE AT HAND:
- To prove an offence in Sections 124-A and 153-A as well as 150-B as well as 505(2) in the I.P.C., it was crucial to prove that the words written or spoken or uttered, as well as the visual representations or signs, had the potential or intention of creating public disorder or disrupting the peace of the public through incitement to commit an offence.
- The provisions in Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973 did not affect Section 154 in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The police could initiate an F.I.R. when they had information received that reveals the commission of an offence, even though the information did not relate to Section 196.
- If there had been no prior sanction by either the Central Government, State Government or District Magistrate, depending on the situation, Section 196 CrPC would be in force at the time of having the Court take cognizance of the Court. The Court must refuse to acknowledge the offence(s) subject to Section of the 196 CrPC.
- If a case involving an offence(s) under Section 196 CrPC was submitted before the Judicial Magistrate without first obtaining prior approval from the relevant authority and the Court is not required to take note of it and must return the report to be considered only after first receiving prior sanction from the appropriate authority.
- If the Court paid attention to the report of the police that was submitted to it in conformity with section 173 CrPC to conduct its business according to the procedure authorized in law must not be considered as having taken note of the identical.
- Suppose the report of the police investigation is found to violate Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The Magistrate should not retain the report and continue with the investigation but instead, return the report to the prosecutor.
- The petition was accepted, and all criminal proceedings for the petitioner, such as the F.I.R. contest, were dismissed.