SEDITION LAWS IN INDIA
Author : SYEDA KHIZRA RIZVI
Sedition means, any act or speech which leads to insurrection against the State. As per Section 124A of Indian Penal Code, 1860, “sedition is a said to be a cognizable offence against the State by any individual whoever, by words or by gesture or by visible representation, brings or he attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or he attempts to excite disaffection also includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity with regard to the Government established by provisions in India“, and highest punishment for commencement such offense is either imprisonment for life or fine or both. Analyzing sedition in detail, it is needed to take accounts of various factors to investigate the problem raised. The factors responsible for sedition includes the following:
- moral values,
- cultural influence,
- socio-economic status,
- and religious practices and preach by religious people and a combination of all these factors.
Further, we also need to analyses the meaning of several words, several rights vested on the citizens of the country and several duties imposed on us by our constitution in the focus of sedition. Now, let’s try to monitor sedition from various perspectives.
The maintenance of the “Unity and Integrity” of the nation should not only be restricted to a mere declaration on a piece of paper but, it must be a duty for every individual of this country.
Unfortunately some of the citizens distort the actual sense of secularism into conciliation showing political and sociological biases leading discordance in the society and the people of our country utilize the “Freedom of Speech and Expression”, a fundamental right ensured under Article 19 of the Constitution of India, in a fashionable manner to strike at the basic of our National integrity as projecting terrorists who are indulged in Parliament attack as hero, or interpretation famous freedom fighters as terrorist, or abusing our National Army, or denial to stand, sing and give respect to our National Anthem, or showing disrespect to our National Flag and refusing to accept currency commissioned by the Government of India etc. and so many acts and speeches which be unreported, unheard and unpunished till date.
Revolution, free speech and sedition
Sedition and revolt are of the same in meaning as according to the dictionary in practice there are different implications of these words. Revolution means forcible enhance of any Government or social order, considering a whole new system of government, including its legal and political components. According to Aristotle, the Ancient Greek philosopher (384–322 BC), political revolutions are mainly:
- complete changes in one constitution to another constitution, and
- modification of the existing constitution.
If the reason will be examining for the revolution in worlds history, then we could find that revolution mainly arises out of grievances of psychological, sociological, & political in nature and because of economic glitch in the society.
The Indian constitution has made various provision for constitutional amendments and provisions are there to amend various statutory Acts through the legislative process in respect to cater our social needs and wants. Every individual of this country is guided by the values of the Constitution and believes in the complete democratic way for selecting the Government of our country.
Freedom of Speech and Sedition
Mahatma Gandhi once quoted: “Speech is silver, silence is gold”, but the silence of the educated peoples in present day scenario, over an issue concerning the integrity & sovereignty of the nation is harmful for the nation indeed. Thus, it is rightly quoted by Napoléon Bonaparte: “The world suffers a lot. Not because of the violence of bad people instead of the silence of the good people.”
“Right to Freedom” given in Part –III of the Constitution has guaranteed various rights as mentioned under Article 19 to Article 22 to the citizens of the nation and among these Articles, Article 19 (1) (a) provides “Freedom of speech and Expression”. Now, the question arises, whether this right is an absolute right or not. This right is subjected to reasonable restrictions as imposed by law on the grounds:9 limitation)
- Contempt of Court,
- Incitement of an offense,
- Sovereignty and integrity of India.
- Security of the state,
- Friendly relations with foreign states,
- Public order,
- Decency or morality,
This indicate that any speech should not be in contrary to any of these grounds as mentioned above as speech is such a powerful weapon in a democratic nation like India.
Here, speech is used as a medium for motivating people, a weapon to inculcate patriotism or treason and a device to engineer the minds of citizens with respect to create balance or imbalances in the society and to unite or disintegrate a nation.
People those who avoid to certain happenings of the world and depends on media-based reports are rely on the speech of educated, responsible and respectable persons of the country.
A person who delivers any speech addressing crowd should take responsibility for all the impacts of the words uttered by him/her and our judiciary and administration should be prompt enough to take appropriate step against adversity regarding such given speech or activities.
Analysis of causative factors
There exist several factors that might be responsible for the birth and growth of sedition. Let’s consider the literacy rate among peoples of society. Education means not only the theoretical knowledge imparted from the textbooks taught in Schools, Colleges or Universities but a complete education of Indian culture, true history, character, social norms and also includes spiritual psychological, or other study which could benefit the society and help in building a strong nation by making future citizens with growth, healthy minds and strong character.
Secondly, the socio-economic status of an individual or group of people is another major factor for sedition. Through the ground of lower socio-economic status, the offenses like illegal arms dealing, fake currency distribution, , Maoists activities etc. grow.
People with a lower economic group tend to earn money by any means for their survival and they usually became a victim of seditious activities unknowingly. But in recent times, some people with higher economic status. Now, the question is that, whether the socio-economic status is responsible for the birth and growth of seditious activities or it is the psychological aspect of few people who instigate others to engage in such role.
Thirdly, degradation of cultural and moral values influence may be viewed as one of the important causative factors of sedition. Until and unless the rich Indian culture is cultivated which is the basis of our heritage, in our daily life we will never be able to know its depth and vastness.
Recently the people of our nation are busy in copying the cultures of western countries but, in the process of copying, we grab the good as well as the bad part of those cultures and thus it affects adversely in our regular life and it has a deleterious effect in the lives of our children.
Fourthly, religious fundamentalism is not only problematic for this country, but it is a global disease. Various political organizations and leaders were also provoking some communities or group of people to busy in conduct that are seditious in nature. We as a citizen of this country need to be prepared as in context of being cautious and mentally ready in a way not to give leniency to such provocation.
Discussion & conclusion
The Seditious actions against the states are not only limited to hateful words, speeches or else attempts to excite disaffection but also to attempts to disintegrate the society in the curtain behind the concept of religion or caste.
We are now living in the era of internet and broadcasting of any news need not depend on print media or any conventional media reports, and now there are various platforms as social media like Facebook, WhatsApp etc. are more strong media to gather mass perception about almost any issue happening around the world at large scale.
Unlawful association and unlawful activities are not only limited to the provisions mentioned under Sections 2(p) and 2(o), of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, respectively but not even the unlawful assembly is limited under the scope as provided under Section 141, Indian Penal Code, 1860, not even the promotion of enmity is restricted as mentioned under the provision of Section 153A, Indian Penal Code, 1860, but all together these activities should be called as seditious activities.
Today, people need not connect one another to form an association which may be termed as unlawful, the activities and promotion of such activities of an association could stand unlawful but, in our jurisprudence, we don’t have any provision where these activities will be defined.
The meaning of ‘terrorist act’ as defined under Section 15 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and term ‘cyber terrorism’ as defined under Section 66F of Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, are not the only anti-national activities alone, but we need to add even those activities as not accepting Indian currency, wrong religious teaching to invoke terrorism, interrupting or restricting the hoisting of National Flag exploiting the youths to indulge in unlawful activities, refusal to sing or to stand while National anthem is being played, etc. as seditious conduct and make appropriate policy to address those issues judicially.
According to the sociological school of Jurisprudence, the task of law is social engineering i.e. to create a balance between the competing interests in the society, it also deals with the practical and functional aspect of law in nation. Prior to the constitution era, sedition law was extensively used to curb political dissent opposing the British Government in India.
After independence, India has undergone through various reforms in economic, social, political and judicial processes to cater to the need and want of the most diversified dynamic society of the world. So, appropriate amendments are needed in sedition law with a view to serving the present-day scenario in a better way.
Therefore, in conclusion, we need to evolve a stricter policy to cure the rotten piece like sedition and treason, in order to maintain the sovereignty and integrity of the country.
The education system also plays the major responsibility to build up future Indians with a clarity of thought and power of minds to build a progressive nation.
The legislature has the responsibility to represent issues like discrimination in respect of sex, caste, religion or language, to channelize grievances against policies of the Government, to en-root proper steps to take out the drawbacks of the Government activities, incorporation of compulsory military service for every citizens, implementation of appropriate policy. The judiciary has the major responsibility to define and to judge accurately each case of sedition and treason and impart appropriate justice to the nation.
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