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Sedition law

Mains- GS-2-Polity

1. A sedition case is filed on the students who performed a play against the new citizenship law in Bengaluru.

2. This led to protest against the police and the law.

History

1. Sedition was introduced in the IPC in 1870.

2. In 1962, Supreme court constitutionally validated the law in Kedarnath Singh case.

3. The Supreme court acknowledged that the sedition law is a reasonable restriction on free speech.

Nuance of Supreme court Verdict

1. Citizens could write/express against the government.

2. Such an expression amounts to sedition only if it incites violence.

Safeguards

1. Bombay High Court issued guidelines to apply sedition law.

a. It says that there should be material to act as evidence to apply the law.

b. Such a material should be evaluated to form an opinion about its nature to incite violence.

c. Legal opinion must be obtained to meet the preconditions for applying sedition law.

d. This needs to be followed by a second opinion from the State’s public prosecutor.

Problems of the law

1. The guidelines are sparsely followed.

2. Poor implementation of the law fails the intent of the law.

3.Number of cases of sedition under Section 124A increased by 160%, while the rate of conviction dropped to 3.3% (NCRB, 2016-2019 data).This shows the poor implementation of the law.

4. The law is misused to incarcerate people who speak against the government.

5. The misuse of the law is done to quell dissent.

Need

1. The changing circumstances necessitates the courts to relook the law.

Learnings

1. The UK repealed sedition law in 2010 while India is holding on to the colonial legislation.

2. In 2018 , the Law commission probed into the question of the need for the sedition law.

3. It opined that many seditious actions are taken care of by several other legislations.

4.It also sought reconsideration of the law.

Way forward

1. Courts must apply an effect-based test which examines the effects of the seditious text.

2. It should move away from content-based test which review the text alone.

Source : the Hindu