The Sedition Law Should Be Re-Written to Include Only Issues Relevant to the Territorial Integrity of India
Despite the absurdly broad and unnecessarily vague nature of India’s sedition law, its usage has been abused by parliamentarians, writers, and human rights activists. It should be rewritten to include only issues about the territorial integrity of India and to overthrow the Government.
India’s sedition law is absurdly broad.
Despite being passed more than a century ago, the Indian sedition law remains an archaic legislation. The law has been misused by police and authorities in power to arrest people who criticize the Government.
As a result, nearly 11,000 people have been arrested under the law over the past decade. These include journalists, activists, political leaders, and even rappers. However, most allegations are false.
The law has been abused to arrest people who defame the Government, slander its policies, and create disaffection among the general public. The case of Disha Ravi, a 21-year-old climate activist, is a prime example of how the law has been misused. Her arrest highlighted the erroneous application of the law.
The Kedar Nath Singh judgment, a landmark decision handed down by the Supreme Court in 1962, made it clear that the sedition law was constitutional. Accordingly, it should be applied only in incitement to violence or a disturbance in law and order.
It has been used against writers, journalists, and human rights activists
Hundreds of writers, journalists, and human rights activists were charged with sedition in India in the past decade. The law is used to silence voices critcriticizing the Government or speaking repression.
Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in May 2014, the number of cases filed against writers and human rights defenders has increased drastically. At least 405 lawsuits have been filed against Indians in the last decade. 65% of the cases were booked after the BJP came into power.
Several sedition cases have also been filed against academics, students, and opposition politicians. However, in the recent Aamodt Broadcasting Company vs. State of Andhra case, the Supreme Court ruled that sedition charges were invalid.
Several courts in the former British colonies have ruled that colonial-era sedition laws violate freedom of expression. In 2010, Uganda’s Constitutional Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional. It’s important to note that the IPC is an absurdly broad law. Hence, even though it may not violate international human rights law, it remains a powerful tool for authorities.
It should be narrowed down to issues about the territorial integrity of India and overthrowing the Government.
During the British colonial era, a law was enacted restricting free speech. Sedition was a term used to describe acts of dissent. It included signs and other means of creating hatred.
Although these laws have been abolished in many countries, they are still used in India. The law is used to curb reasonable criticisms of the Government and even to arrest peaceful activists.
The Supreme Court should rule on the constitutionality of the sedition law before it loses its potency. In May 2022, the court halted the use of the controversial law.
The law should be limited to acts of dissent involving “disorder” to be effective. However, the term “disorder” is vague.
A better way to word the law would be to focus on issues related to the territorial integrity of India. This is because sedition has been used to quell dissent in the subcontinent. It has been used to silence nationalist dissent in India and Pakistan.
Parliamentarians have abused it.
Several parliamentarians have raised concerns about the abuse of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) – the offense of sedition. Some have suggested that the law should be repealed entirely. In addition, several private member bills are aimed at reforming the law. One such bill, introduced by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, recommends the removal of Section 124A.
The IPU is concerned that the Government can use the law to target political enemies. It is also worried that any amendments to the Sedition Act will further limit free speech. The IPU calls on the Malaysian Parliament to ensure that any new legislation meets international standards.
In 2010, the Constitutional Court of Uganda struck down the country’s sedition law, saying it violated its right to freedom of expression. The same year, the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States ruled that the Sedition Act in Gambia was unconstitutional.