In this article, we will discuss Challenges Associated with Sedition Law. So, let’s get started.
Challenges Associated with Sedition Law
- Against the Basic Structure: “The essence of democracy,” as Munshi put it in the Constituent Assembly “is criticism of government.” The sedition law disregards this core spirit. It criminalises censure and opposition and it enervates, to the point of exhaustion, the basic structure of a democratic republic.
- Marginalised most affected: In its application by law enforcement, the limitations imposed in Kedar Nath Singh have rarely been observed. And in recent years, there is seen an enhanced exploitation of the law, where even the most benign acts of opposition have been met with a charge of sedition.
- As is often the case with abuses of this kind, it is the most marginalised sections of society that have faced the brunt of the harm.
- Section 124A is a relic of colonial legacy and unsuited in a democracy. It is a constraint on the legitimate exercise of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.
- Dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of robust public debate in a vibrant democracy. They should not be constructed as sedition.
- Right to question, criticize and change rulers is very fundamental to the idea of democracy.
- The British, who introduced sedition to oppress Indians, have themselves abolished the law in their country. There is no reason why India should not abolish this section.
- The terms used under Section 124A like ‘disaffection’ are vague and subject to different interpretations to the whims and fancies of the investigating officers.
- IPC and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 2019 have provisions that penalize “disrupting the public order” or “overthrowing the government with violence and illegal means”. These are sufficient for protecting national integrity. There is no need for Section 124A.
- Sedition law is being misused as a tool to persecute political dissent. A wide and concentrated executive discretion is inbuilt into it which permits blatant abuse.
- In 1979, India ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which sets forth internationally recognized standards for the protection of freedom of expression. However, misuse of sedition and arbitrary slapping of charges are inconsistent with India’s international commitments.