ARTICLE 19(1) AND SEDITION WHETHER RELATED OR DISTINCT ACT
Author: Divyanshu Upadhyay, III year of B.A.,LL.B. from Bihar Institute of Law
Article 19(1) gives the right to the citizens to express themselves freely while sedition (section 124-A of IPC) in a way put reasonable restriction on the right to free expression.
Sedition is any action or speech that leads to revolt against the authority or state. Article 19(1) is a fundamental right provided to the citizens of India by the constitution which is freedom of speech and expression. Sedition is considered as cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offence and has a punishment which my extend to imprisonment for life.
Sedition word is not given in Article 19(2) which puts reasonable restriction on freedom of speech and expression but it was made a separate provision in the Indian Penal Code.
In the present times the sedition has became a tool for the governments across the country to curb the freedom of speech they use it to supress the voices of people which includes journalists, social activists , and the other voices who criticize the policies of the government or highlights the administrative failure on certain issues.
History of Sedition law is old it was introduced during British raj to supress the voices of the freedom fighters. Mahatma Gandhi was charged with sedition and called section 124-A is ”prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to supress the liberty of the citizens. First PM of India Jawaharlal Nehru in the parliament called sedition law “obnoxious and highly objectionable and the sooner we get rid of it the better.
Abuse of sedition law in recent times has increased times and bound the government of different states across the country misuse this law. Its not about one party or one state government or UTs all of the use it to supress the criticizing voices. There is some data to support this argument according to National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) in the year 2016-2019 total 326 sedition cases were filed while the number of cases in 2019 increased by 160% from 2016 while the conviction rate dropped to 3.3% in 2019 from 33.3% in 2016.
The supreme court in a writ petition has questioned the central government whether it was still needed after 75 years of independence and termed it as a statute of colonial era. The court stated that the statute has been abused to the point where it is “like handing a carpenter a saw to cut a piece of wood and he uses it to cut the entire forest”1.
It is not possible to completely abolish this law because it protects the publicly elected government from coup and giving it stability and it also helps to combat from anti-national elements, separatist and terrorist elements.
But sedition law needs reconsideration.
Key words: Article19(1), Sedition, Freedom of speech, Judgement