Public Administration Mains 2018 : Model Question and Answer - 72
(Public Administration Paper II / Chapter: Union Government and Administration)
(Current Based) Question: Discuss Sedition law in India as a part of provisions under Fundamental Rights and IPC. (20 Marks/350 Words)
Part III of the Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to citizens and non-citizens. No fundamental right is absolute. Freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) can be reasonably restricted on the grounds specified in Article 19(2). In the Draft Constitution, one of the heads of the restrictions proposed on freedom of speech and expression was “sedition”.
During the debates in the Constituent Assembly, in view of the bitter experience of the arbitrary application of the sedition law by the colonial regime against nationalist leaders, Jawaharlal Nehru with K M Munshi deliberately omitted “sedition” as one of the permissible grounds of restriction under Article 19(2). However, sedition remained a criminal offence in the IPC Section 124-A and provides inter alia for the sentence of life imprisonment and fine upon conviction.
In its landmark decision in 1962 in Kedernath vs. State of Bihar, the SC disapproved of the view of the Privy Council and adopted the view of the Federal Court. The Court ruled that mere criticism of the government or comments on the administration — however vigorous, pungent or ill-informed — was not sedition and that incitement to violence is the essential ingredient of that offence.
The legal position which emerges is that merely shouting slogans like Pakistan or Khalistan zindabad, however deplorable, per se would not attract Section 124-A which deals with sedition. Criticism of the SC judgment upholding the conviction of Afzal Guru also would not attract Section 124-A. However if a person has said “Hindustan murdabad”, or that the Indian state is tyrannical and it is necessary to overthrow it, that could possibly amount to sedition.
But misuse of Section 124-A in some cases, however regrettable, is no ground for its deletion. The provision properly interpreted and correctly applied protects and preserves the integrity of the Indian state and is also a deterrent for persons who are minded to commit acts of incitement to violence and acts which cause disturbance of public order. (Total Words- 325)
Valuable inputs from The Indian Express Opinion: ‘The Limits of Freedom’ by Soli J. Sorabjee
(Linkages: Sedition Law and Fundamental Rights, Sedition Law and IPC Section- 124-A, Sedition Law and Essential Ingredient)