Tag Archives: 124A

Compilation of Resources on Sedition Law

Given that there is considerable debate on sedition right now, and how woefully off some of the reporting and comments on the ongoing JNU case has been, thought it may be useful to compile a set of existing resources to help anyone writing or commenting on the issue.
This is a compilation of resources on various facets of sedition law in India. I have provided a link with a very short summary of what the article/monographs say, and they contain very detailed historical and legal overviews,  highly recommended for anyone writing on sedition and looking for material.

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Arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar : A Short Summary of the law of Sedition in India

News reports are indicating that an FIR has been registered with respect to a public meeting organized on the JNU campus on the evening of 9th February. These reports claim that the meeting was about the hanging of Afzal Guru, and it is alleged that during its course, some people raised incendiary slogans. According to reports, the FIR has been registered under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (sedition), and the Police have already arrested one person.

It is important to note that under the Indian law of sedition, the events at the public meeting, even if completely true, do not even come close to establishing an offence. In Kedar Nath Singh’s Case, 5 judges of the Supreme Court – a Constitution bench – made it clear that allegedly seditious speech and expression may be punished only if the speech is an ‘incitement’ to ‘violence’, or ‘public disorder’. Subsequent cases have further clarified the meaning of this phrase. In Indra Das v State of Assam and Arup Bhuyan v State of Assam, the Supreme Court unambiguously stated that only speech that amounts to “incitement to imminent lawless action” can be criminalized. In Shreya Singhal v Union of India, the famous 66A judgment, the Supreme Court drew a clear distinction between “advocacy” and “incitement”, stating that only the latter could be punished.

 

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Clamping down on the dissenting voice

Part 3 of a 3 part series by SIDDHARTH NARRAIN. First published on The Hoot.
 

While the Supreme Court’s decision lay to rest the debate on the scope and constitutional validity of the sedition law, the life of the sedition law is entangled with that of political dissent in the country. A brief search for reported High Court and Supreme Court cases on sedition gives us an indication of the kinds of situations where the sedition law is commonly used.

For instance, in 1967, the government prosecuted Ghulam Rasood Choari, the editor of an Agra based Urdu weekly called Ehsas for exhorting the Muslims of the country, especially the Muslims of Kashmir to violence against the government and bringing the readers of the paper into ‘hatred’ and contempt and dissatisfaction with the government (Ghulam Rasool Choari v. The State 1968 CriLJ 884).

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