Sedition Law-2
21/07/2021

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Context:

  • A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana has agreed to examine a petition challenging the validity of section 124A (Sedition) of the Indian Penal Code.

About:

  • CJI questioned the government why a colonial law used against Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak continued to survive in the law book 75 years after independence.
  • A number of petitions have been filed highlighting the chilling effect sedition has on the fundamental right of free speech.
  • In a recent judgement quashing a sedition case, Justice U.U Lalit recorded that the time is long past when the mere criticism of governments was sufficient to constitute sedition. The right to utter honest and reasonable criticism is a source of strength to a community rather than a weakness.
  • The recent developments have also opened the floor for debate and introspection on the 1962 Supreme Court verdict in the Kedar Nath case that upheld the constitutional validity of Section 124A.
  • The CJI’s reference to low conviction rates under the sedition law resonates with a petition highlighting the dramatic jump in charging a person with the offence of sedition since 2016.
  • The National Crime Records Bureau reports show that in 2019, 21 cases of sedition were closed on account of no evidence, two were closed for being false cases and six cases were held to be civil disputes.
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