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Supreme Court To Examine Constitutional Validity Of Offence Of Sedition Under Section 124A IPC

Srishti Ojha
30 April 2021 12:38 PM GMT
Supreme Court To Examine Constitutional Validity Of Offence Of Sedition Under Section 124A IPC
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The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice in a plea challenging the constitutional validity of the provision of the Indian Penal Code that penalises the law of sedition. A three-judge Bench of Justice UU Lalit, Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice KM Joseph were hearing a plea filed by challenging section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which penalises the crime of...

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The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice in a plea challenging the constitutional validity of the provision of the Indian Penal Code that penalises the law of sedition.

A three-judge Bench of Justice UU Lalit, Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice KM Joseph were hearing a plea filed by challenging section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which penalises the crime of "sedition".

The petitioner has prayed that Section 124-A be declared unconstitutional and void and be struck out of the Indian Penal Code.

The plea has been filed by two journalists working in the states of Manipur and Chhattisgarh. According to them, they have been raising questions against their respective state governments and Central Government, and have been charged with sedition under section 124A of IPC in various FIRs for comments and cartoons shared by them on the social networking website Facebook.

The petition has been filed by Advocate Tanima Kishore and drawn by Advocate Siddharth Seem on behalf of the petitioner journalists Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla,

The plea, has argued that the section infringes the fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India which guarantees that "all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression". The restriction imposed by the section is an unreasonable one, and therefore does not constitute a permissible restriction in terms of Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

While citing the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the validity of the law in 1962 in the case of Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar, the Petitioner has argued that the Court may have been correct in its finding nearly sixty years ago, but the law no longer passes constitutional muster today.

According to the petitioner, there are alternative legislation which have been enacted over the years, including Unlawful Activities Act, the Public Safety Act and the National Security Act. whose provisions deal directly with the overt conduct that sedition seeks to make penal - inciting violence and public disorder. Therefore the need to employ Section 124-A to deal with public disorder and violence is eliminated by these legislations, and there exists no urgency justifying the employment of the section.

The petitioners have pointed out three circumstances to be considered with regards to the law of sedition.

  • India has obligations under International Law, as its bound by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that protects the freedom of expression as a right of all individuals Section 124-A is a restriction of freedom of expression.
  • There is frequent phenomenon of misuse, misapplication and abuse of Section 124-A since 1962. The abuse of a law, in itself, may not bear on the validity of the law but clearly points to the vagueness and uncertainty of the current law.
  • The sections of sedition have been repealed in comparative pot-colonial democratic jurisdictions around the world. While India calls itself a 'democracy', throughout the democratic world the offence of sedition has been condemned as undemocratic, undesirable and unnecessary.

The petitioners have also argued that the vagueness of Section 124-A exerts an unacceptable chilling effect on the democratic freedoms of individuals who cannot enjoy there legitimate democratic rights and freedoms for fear of life imprisonment.

Click here to Read/Download Order

Click here to download the Petition


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