In earlier times, if people did not question the malpractices, they would not have tried to give the right direction, then we would never have progressed. Raising voice against malpractices and beliefs is the reason for rising above our practices today.
The sedition law was enacted at the time when India was ruled by a foreign imperialist colonizing power, to curb any demand for independence, freedom, and rights of people. The law was first originated by, British historian and politician, Thomas Macaulay in 1837, but was unfathomably omitted when IPC was enacted in 1860.
Meaning of sedition
Sedition is the action of provoking unlawful behavior or urging someone to behave unlawfully. It is considered to be a lesser crime than treason. A seditionary does not try to interfere or attempt to overthrow the sovereign or government.
Its motive is to encourage rebellion against the government. For example, a person may commit sedition by holding a meeting to discuss a rebellion or revolution at home. Sedition is not a bailable offense.
The Indian penal code section 124A defines sedition as an offense committed when “ any person by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise brings or attempt to bring hatred or contempt, or excites or attempt to excite disaffection against the government established by law in India.
Nevertheless, statements without exhilarating or attempting to exhilarate hatred, arrogance or alienation, will not compose an offense under this section.
Punishment under the section 124A ranges from imprisonment up to three years or life term, to which fine may be added. Government jobs are blocked for the person who is charged under this law. Their passport would be taken away and they are supposed to be present in the court whenever they have been called.
Rights guaranteed by our constitution, that enable citizens of India to criticize the government in power. The preamble declares clearly that it is the people of India who have adopted, enacted, and given to themselves the constitution. The preamble of India promises to secure for all the citizens – liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship.
The term “democratic “ used in the preamble in the broader sense embracing not only political democracy but also social and economic democracy. Democracy includes fearlessness, therefore We, the people of India, must fearlessly express our views or disaffection against the government. The right to dissent (guaranteed by the constitution) is essential for democracy. The criticism of the executives, judiciary, bureaucracy, and the armed forces is not sedition until it schemes to public disorder or incitement.
Article 19(1)(a): freedom of speech and expression article 19(1)(a) says that all citizens shall have the right “ to freedom of speech and expression” This means the right to express one's convictions, and opinions freely by word of mouth, writing, printing, pictures, or any other mode.
Even if the judiciary is not above the criticism, the judiciary would also have to face the criticism of people as it is a fundamental right of the citizen ( freedom of speech and expression). Criticism is beneficial too as it leads to the improvement of judicial proceedings. Freedom of speech allows the free flow of opinion and to criticize policies. It gives the right to express views or opinions in such a manner that it could not cause defamation to whom the criticism is directed. This view was upheld in the case of s .rangarajan v. Jagjivan. Justice Deepak Gupta said at a workshop that” the misuse of sedition law is against that very principle that our fighters fought for”
Comparison between sedition and nationalism
JNU student share imam was charged with sedition before a Delhi court for allegedly inciting people to indulge in activities detrimental to the sovereignty and integrity of the country. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, and Bipin Chandra pal were the most prominent leaders of the assertive nationalists. They wanted freedom, they were provoking the countrymen, because of the slavery oh the British, they were misbehaving the people. They fought not against the country but for our motherland.
Our country is free and democratic. We all have the right to express our views to the government. The government or authority should be altruistic to accept the criticism of people. They cannot be hypersensitive to people who criticize them. If a person uses unjustified, uncivilized, or defamatory language, then the remedy is to file proceedings for defamation but not prosecute the person for sedition.
Part iii of the constitution, which contains fundamental rights, has been described as the Magna Carta of India. It provides us fundamental rights that provide us the liberty to express our view or disaffection against the government. We have the right to criticize criticism or expression calls for public disorder or incitement to violence, it is considered to be sedition. Criticism of government is sedition and not a criticism of an individual. We are independent citizens of India, so it's not a crime to have a different point of view in matters of government.