Sedition – It is time India did away with Section 124A of The Indian Penal Code


Perhaps the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will relook at this Act and do away with this unlawful law that goes against the Constitution of India. There are enough laws in India to deal with those attempting to overthrow the government.

In 1870 the British colonial government introduced Section 124A to deal with acts of ‘sedition’ against its government by those seeking freedom from its rule. This Act was used against Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi and thousands of others.

It appears the Government of India is following in the footsteps of the Raj as it continues to use this draconian law – misuse is the rule than the exception.

Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code defines the offence of sedition as follows: “Sedition. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine”. (see links below)

This is against the spirit of the Constitution of India – Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution says, all citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression. This right to freedom of speech and expression incorporates protection for austerely censuring existing government structures, policies, and administrative schemes, coupled with protection for suggesting and recommending the development of other system. Article 19 (2) of Indian Constitution says that, every citizen of the country holds the right to air his or her opinion through print or electronic media with restrictions imposed. (see links below)

From ordinary school students to politicians, historians, writers, poets and even cartoonists (Menaka Gandhi, Arundhati Roy, Aseem Trivedi, Binayak Sen, Kedar Nath Singh and Romesh Thapar) have faced the full fury of a State miffed by the actions of the aforementioned persons. Most cases are politically motivated and have little to do with the actual spirit of the Law.

It is time India did away with this Law.

Is anyone listening in India?

Some references
The Hindu
Freedom of Expression in India
Amnesty International

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