This article on “Sedition in respect of Freedom of Speech and expression- Indian Scenario” is written by an intern at Legal Upanishad.
The laws on Sedition in India are deeply problematic because they don’t provide a clear definition of the offence and leave it to the discretion of the law enforcement agencies to decide what is seditious. This leads to many instances where people have been arrested under this law for expressing their opinions peacefully on various issues such as government policies, political parties, etc.
Freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right under the Constitution of India. As per Article- 19, all citizens are guaranteed the right to freedom of speech and expression. This right also includes the freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart information or ideas, in any form whatsoever.
The fundamental duty under Article-51A obligates every Indian citizen to develop the habit of discussing ideas with others in order to build up a common mind.
This article tries to explore the question of Sedition in India as an act against freedom of speech and expression.
Insight into Sedition-
Sedition law in India can be defined as any act that disturbs public order or causes fear or alarm among people. Sedition cases are filed under Section-124A (statements conducing to public disorder) of the Indian Penal Code. This section was introduced in the year 1860, before that sedition could not be prosecuted. In 1962, this provision was amended to include the word “public”.
- Section-124A deals with punishment for statements that may cause a breach of peace. Under this provision, the accused can be imprisoned for life if convicted.
- Section-124B makes it illegal to raise force or violence against the government or state. It is punishable by imprisonment for life along with fine.
- Section-125 makes it unlawful to publish or circulate false news about the government or the armed forces.
Hence, the legal definition of Sedition in India is causing or attempting to cause disharmony or disaffection among people, especially by making statements against national unity and integrity or by promoting feelings of enmity or hatred between different communities. Certain kinds of speeches are exempted from being considered seditious if they are made in private without any intention to promote public disorder. Sedition in India, is a serious offence that can lead to imprisonment for life or for a term of not less than ten years.
However, in simple words, it can be understood that Sedition means making statements that bring hatred against the government or instill feelings of disaffection towards the administration-which is constitutionally a crime in India when it involves violence.
Sedition in India was defined and classified into three categories: “sedition”, “waging war against the nation” and “attempting to wage war”. The Constitution of India recognizes freedom of speech and expression as an inherent natural right of every citizen. However, this right can’t be exercised without any restrictions as it has both positive and negative consequences on society as a whole.
Importance of Freedom of Speech and Expression in a
The right to free expression is one of the basic rights that we have in our country. We are allowed to express our views freely without any fear of being suppressed. Our government should respect this right and not take action against people who are expressing their thoughts. This right gives people the liberty to make their voices heard and share their opinions about anything they want. If someone does not like what the other person says, he can just ignore him. But if the person does not have the freedom to speak his mind, then he is going to be suppressed. So, this is something that needs to be respected.
Freedom of speech and expression is necessary for the free exchange of ideas and opinions and to help keep society civil. Without them, we would not have a democratic system of government.
In a democracy, freedom of speech and expression are protected by law and cannot be restricted without due cause. This means that people should not be censored or punished for what they say or write. However, this does not mean that everyone has the right to speak their mind at any time. There may be times when certain words or actions can be considered offensive or harmful to others. When these things happen, then the government can step in and restrict the freedom of speech and expression but the importance should not be left unseen.
Protection of Freedom of Expression-
Human Rights Council on Protection of Freedom of Expression In its resolution, the Council stressed the need to protect the freedom of expression, noting the importance of such protection in order to ensure respect for international human rights obligations and to prevent the abuse of the human right to freedom and integrity of others.
The Council also referred to the Commission’s recommendations, which aim to raise awareness about abuses of this right and the measures taken to address them. Moreover, it pointed to reports of cases of abuse and violations of human rights and freedom of expression in certain countries and asked the Secretary-General to consider the creation of a Council Special Rapporteur on the protection of freedom, conscience, and rights.
Implications for future policies and regulations of Sedition in India-
The government is considering that the amendment is an attempt to curtail freedom of expression. All the while, they are trying to protect the people’s right to information. The people of India are fighting back against the government. They have decided to use this opportunity to raise their voice. When the issue of sedition arises in the country, the news is always brought to the public attention. This time, too, it is in response to very strong opposition and it also raises a question as to whether or not the Government is serious about the freedom to freedom.
However, I think that it will be important for the opposition to also raise the question of what is being done with the information which has been so freely disseminated and disseminating throughout the world. I hope that this question will not be raised by the media but that some other voices will also emerge to voice out the issues that are being faced. And I believe that there are many other people who are also opposed to this. We have to ensure that those who wish to make a statement or voice a view will raise this issue, to let the nation know that what they want to say is not being taken seriously.
Sedition means inciting people to rebel against the Government and it has been defined as “unlawful violence, disturbance, or interruption of public peace and tranquility, by words either spoken or written or by signs or pictures”. The act of sedition is to make or to show the intention of making public disorder, disaffection, or resistance to authority in a particular place, such as a country. When such incidents occur, the government can intervene and limit freedom of speech and expression, but the significance of this should not be overlooked.
The right to Freedom of Speech and Expression enables people to express their opinion freely without any fear of getting hurt, this way only we would be able to come together and work towards solving problems within the country. And, this way, we can achieve success together and make our country a much more developed nation.