Explained: The Scope of Law of Sedition in India

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The offence under the section is cognizable, non-bailable, non- compoundable and is triable by the Court of Sessions. It is also a statutory requirement that no court shall take cognizance of the offence of sedition except with the prior sanction of the central or the state government. Since its inception, the meaning and scope of the offence has been the subject of judicial interpretation.

New Delhi (AJRI): New Delhi (AJRI): The Law of Sedition has become one of most legally discussed subjects now days in India.

The Association of Judicial Reforms (India), working for  transparency and fairness in Indian Justice delivery system understands cruciality this issue for India and its citizens in era of openness thus referring an article in the interest of transparency and fairness in Indian Justice delivery system.

As Article is long therefore we are publishing this in parts with sole aim to make readers understand in capsules.

Today We will discuss the Scope of Law of Sedition in India;

The offence under the section is cognizable, non-bailable, non- compoundable and is triable by the Court of Sessions. It is also a statutory requirement that no court shall take cognizance of the offence of sedition except with the prior sanction of the central or the state government. Since its inception, the meaning and scope of the offence has been the subject of judicial interpretation.

The main reason for this was that while defining the offence of sedition, the section uses a number of terms and phrases the meanings of which have not been exhaustively explained. It seems it has been deliberately vaguely worded.

For instance, it contains the terms 'hatred', 'contempt' and 'disaffection' and, at the same time, talks about 'disapprobation' without exciting such hatred, contempt or disaffection. Similarly, the section contains the phrases 'brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt' and 'excites or attempts to excite disaffection' but gives no indication as to when or how exactly is a person supposed to do so. Consequently, these words 'disaffection', 'hatred' and 'contempt' have been subject to varied interpretation by different courts.

With respect to the term 'disaffection', the section explains the meaning of this term as including 'disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.' Explanation 2 and 3 to section 124A of the I.P.C. elucidate what does not constitute the offence of sedition. Hence, the Law of Sedition as formulated, firstly vaguely expresses what is sedition and secondly, states what is not sedition.

It is well settled that in interpreting an enactment, the court should have regard not merely to the literal meaning of the words used, but also take into consideration the antecedent history of the legislation, its purpose and the mischief it seeks to suppress. Accordingly, the Supreme Court, in Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar, restricted the scope of this section to acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order, or incitement to violence.

In this case, the court observed that "the provisions of the sections read as a whole, along with the explanations, make it reasonably clear that the sections aim to rendering penal only such activities as would be intended, or have a tendency, to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence."

It is worthy to note that to constitute an offence under Section 124-A of the IPC it is not necessary that one should excite or attempt to excite mutiny or rebellion or any kind of actual disturbance, it would be sufficient that one tries to excite feelings of Hatred or Contempt towards the government. Both successful and unsuccessful attempts to excite disaffection are placed on the same footing. So even if person had only tried to excite the feelings he could be convicted. Whether any disturbance or outbreak was actually caused by such attempt is absolutely immaterial.

In next post  some important characteristics related to offence of sedition

Source: This Article is excerpt of  an article written by Harshit Kumar, the Article was first published on website Legal Service India.com  and republished in the interest of justice .

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