All You Need to Know About The Right Exercised By Amulya Leona
Updated: Jan 15
The criminal justice system is based on an implicit four-sided contract: the legislature passes the law, the judiciary interprets it, the people observe it and the police enforce it. This justice system can work at its best when everyone performs their work with utmost seniority, and its covers a check and balance on everyone's power, but this check must not create hatred among people of one organ or the other and thus in light of that Section 124-A IPC (Sedition) is introduced.
Section 124-A of IPC states certain essentials that are:
The prosecutor must show to the hilt that the purpose of the writer or the speaker, whatever he might be, is to incite hate or disrespect or to cause or to incite disaffection with the government established by law in India.
The substance of the offence of sedition, therefore, is the intention in which the language is used and what is punished by section 124-A of the penal code is a deliberate attempt, effective or otherwise, to incite the sentiments set out in that section against the Nation that is a pure propensity in the Art to encourage such sentiments is not sufficient to warrant a conviction.
The provisions of Section 124-A, I.P.C. are rather specific and, under strict legislation, will include anything that corresponds to the defamation of the Government excluding any critique in the good conscience of some specific measure or act of administration.
In Paramanand v. Emperor, the court stated that a speech when suggesting that the government at present established by law in India was dishonest and unjust and the steps initiated is through violence or threat then it falls under the provisions of Section 124-A.
When the case of sedition is concerned then the speech is to be considered as a whole and not in pieces such that man holds the fundamental Right of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) provided an individual can criticize or comment upon the actions and measures of the government.
The act of Amulya on protesting against the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019) is an act exercised under the right guaranteed under the Constitution to form association or union peacefully without arms. Merely saying slogans does not classify into hate speech as it is just the criticism against the act of the government which can be exercised by her under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
In Balwant Singh and Another v. State of Punjab, the court stated that merely raising slogans does not excite hatred or disaffection towards the government under Section 124-A IPC and would not be attracted to the facts and circumstances of the case.
In Kedarnath Singh v. State of Bihar, the court stated that the clause is constitutional and was limited when the act is such that it incites violence intentionally to create public disorder or disturbance of public peace.
When dissent on a particular topic is equated with sedition then comes the problem in a democratic society.
Sedition is an offence that existed in our Indian Penal Code (IPC) until we achieved independence as the colonial ruler decided to prosecute anybody who attempted to abolish the empire. Yet the irony is that, nowadays, in independent India, this clause is being used to intimidate and terrorize civilians. The purpose of sedition law is simply to restrict free expression and free-thinking, all of which are controversial with the government. Where an opponent may be stopped by the very reality that imprisonment is possible, that itself acts as a barrier.
In my opinion, the section is problematic because the harsh laws, when implemented by the government on selective people, leads to discrimination. Merely exercising dissent does not qualify an individual becoming anti-national or exercising hatred. The misuse happens when there exist such harsh laws. There might be situations where through political will these laws would not be scrapped and the court will keep looking at the earlier judgments and refine them. The judicial system within the country is slow so the people charged with sedition are made to surrender their passports, they are not eligible for government jobs and they should produce before the courts pairing a huge disadvantage till the charges are actually considered.
Thus, this law should be scrapped paving waves for a new beginning.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anisha Bhandari is currently studying law from Institute of Law, Nirma University, Gujarat.
You can contact them https://in.linkedin.com/in/anisha-bhandari-ab0865172
Edited By: Swati Tolambia
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