By Apurbaa Ghosh
The Indian Penal Code was drafted in the year 1860 on the recommendation of the law commission. Sedition law was not included there. Sedition law was drafted by Thomas Macaulay and added in the Indian Penal Code in the year 1870. Art 124A of IPC narrated the term Sedition that if anyone through his words, spoken or written, promoting hatred, contempt or excites or disaffections against the government established by law, then that person should be charged at Sedition and also three years jail or life imprisonment and fine also imposed upon them.
When the Sedition law was enacted in the IPC, British rule was there. That time Indian peoples realize that they have to fight against the British rule because it is an illegal rule. So, they choose their first stage through propaganda. If we want to overthrow the illegal British rule, then we had to educate the masses that we are an illegal foreign occupation through our propaganda. Propaganda should spread through article, speeches, newspaper. British soon realize that if they permit Indians to carry on with educated through this propaganda, then they have to criminalize freedom of speech and expression. It is the reason that Sedition law was en-acted in the IPC in British era.
In that time, Mohandas karamchand Gandhi was arrested on sedition charge by British official and he was sentenced 6 years imprisonment for protesting against British colonial. But in our constitution , Sedition is not an restricted ground under freedom of expression. Art 13 of our Indian Constitution said that any law which has been passed before independent, if that law is not violating any fundamental rights which have mentioned Part III of constitution constituti0on, it is a valid one. But if this law violated the fundamental right of Part iii, then it is unconstitutional.
There are some important cases which are talked about Sedition law. Kedarnath case vs State of Bihar 1962, in this case, Supreme Court said Sedition law under IPC is valid. But we narrow down the interpretation of Sedition law in this case. We can not have speech of expression and Sedition law same breath. But if you are using your freedom of speech and expression incite people, then you should be punished under this law. If you are inciting people to violence then you violate public order which is a restriction under Art 19 of Indian Constitution. The another case is Balwant singh case, 1995, In this case, Supreme Court said that mere slogan would not be deemed as Sedition because everyone has freedom of speech and expression unless and until you incites people towards the violence and instigate people to raise the arms to overthrow the government, then you can be charged under Sedition. Sreya singh vs Union of India, 2015, in this case Supreme Court said that anyone can advocated whatever he want to advocate, he can propagate whatever he want to propagate but do not incite people to violent. Advocacy of any idea is our freedom of speech and expression. If you are violating any peace through your words or expression, then you fall under sedition law and also if there is breakdown of public order through your speech, then Sedition law will be applicable.
There is activist in Assam who are protesting the citizenship amendment Bill, they have been also booked under Sedition law. Another important Sedition charged also has been filed against writer Arundhati Roy for her controversial remarks upon Kashmir. For this reason recently law commission in his report said that they have to relook at this entire Sedition Law.