Tag Archives: Indian Penal Code

On sedition: Sarim Naved

In this guest post, SARIM NAVED gives a chronological account of sedition in Indian law, and discusses the procedural aspects laid down for a magistrate to take cognisance of sedition

After the 1857 revolt, the Press Act of 1857 which prohibited all publications, without licensing, was passed. This Act known as Lord Canning’s Act  applied to all kinds of publication, including books in all languages and other printed papers in all languages. 1860 saw the enactment of the Indian Penal Code, which remains in force today in a relatively unchanged manner. The Indian Penal Code, while not directly dealing with the press, does incorporate provisions that impinge upon and regulate the activities of the press. The code dealt with issues ranging from offences against a person’s body or property to criminal breach of trust to offences like defamation and obscenity that directly concerned editors.  In the words of Rajeev Dhavan, “It was a comprehensive code. Not all these provisions were directed against free speech but virtually all could be used against it.” Amendments were later introduced to bring in the offence of sedition in 1870, the offence of promoting enmity between classes in 1898, the offence of outraging religious feelings in 1928 and imputations or assertions prejudicial to national integration, which were added by the government of independent India in 1972. Continue reading On sedition: Sarim Naved

Point Forty Five

Dear Mr P. Chidambaram,

On 8 March last year, Aman Kachroo was lynched to death in a college hostel in Himachal Pradesh. It was just another case of ragging. It happened nearly eight years after the Supreme Court of India banned ragging in May 2001. In fact, since May 2001, there has been at least one ragging death every other month, as reported by the English language media. You can imagine how many cases are hushed up, blamed on academic pressure and ‘depression’, and never investigated. We are also not going into the much larger number of cases of attempted suicides, drop-outs, and not even measuring the psychological impact on freshers.

In 2001, the Supreme Court’s orders said that an educational institution that is unable to control ragging would face grant cuts or even disaffiliation by affiliating bodies such as the UGC, AICTE, Medical Council of India and a host of others. Not one of them ever found any college unable to control ragging. Their bureaucrats issued circulars and thought their signatures on the circulars were good enough. Years later, some of them told the Supreme Court that they did not have the powers to act against institutions – even though a Supreme Court order had empowered them to do so!

Such matters clearly concern your colleague Kapil Sibal, so why am I writing to you? We shall come to that, just let me tell you what happened thereafter. Continue reading Point Forty Five