SEDITION LAW IN INDIA | LAW COMMISSION UPDATE
The Law Commission of India in their 279th report has recommended against the total repeal of sedition Law that is Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code. They have proposed to retain the law with certain amendments and developments to bring greater clarity to its provisions. They have also asked the central government to bring model guidelines for better clarity.
In the report, the commission has also proposed to increase the punishment of the offense. They have recommended that the punishment should be increased to 7 years or life imprisonment or with a fine as per the offense committed. Right now the punishment is 3 years or with a fine.
One of the amendments that the commission has proposed is –
To add a proviso to section 154 of the Code of criminal procedure that states that the FIR for the offence of sedition should only be registered after a preliminary enquiry by a police officer who is not below the rank of inspector and after the permission of the central or state government according to the case.
The commission has disagreed with the view that the law is not violative of fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression which is guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a).
Also, the commission pointed out the important distinction between special laws dealing with terrorism and sedition law stating that the previous one does not obviate sedition.
The commission stated that, ‘Generally speaking, special laws and anti-terror legislations dealing with national security such as these seek to prevent or punish the commission of offences targeted towards the State. On the other hand, Section l24A of IPC seeks to prevent the violent, illegal, and unconstitutional overthrow of a democratically elected government established by law. Hence, the existence of the former does not by implication cover all elements of the offence envisaged under Section 124A of lPC.”
The commission further stated that the sedition being the colonial law is not a valid ground for its repeal because than many laws like IPC should be removed.
So, according to the commission the amendment to the current law should be
(124A) Sedition – Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, with a tendency to incite violence or cause public disorder shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which Jine may be added, or with imprisonment of either description for o term which may extend to seven years, to which fine may be added, or with fine. The Commission consists of Justice(Retired) Ritu Raj Awasthi (former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court and judge of Allahabad High Court), Justice Retired) KT Sankaran(former judge of the Kerala High Court), Professor Dr. Anand Paliwal and Professor DP Verma.