October 9, 2023
symbolizing justice and order

Any person’s right to speak is a basic human requirement. There is no possibility of the construct of a society until its people are free to express themselves without any fear and freely share ideas. Speech can also be used to defend oneself. When we have the freedom to express ourselves, we may have the ability to protest against oppression and injustice perpetrated by others, either by the government or by an individual in society. As a result, the freedom to speak refers to the freedom to freely express one’s opinion on a broad topic

Free speech in the society forms an important and a relevant part. Besides its significant contribution to the advancement of social advancement, a democratic system’s success is dependent on this freedom. It is frequently viewed as a fundamental notion in the context of contemporary liberal democracy.

Sedition Law: Emergence

The original Indian Penal Code of 1860, which was created by Macaulay in the year 1837, did not include sedition as a criminal offense. Sir Stephen amended the Indian Penal Code in the year 1870, adding the crime of sedition. When Britain ruled India, it was first started under the name “Exciting Disaffection.”

The IPC Amendment Act of 1898 revised the Indian Penal Code Amendment Act of 1870. It is asserted that the current version of Section 124A is equivalent to the changes made to it in 1898, with certain modifications made in the years 1937, 1948, 1950 and 1951.

Sedition Law: Constituent Assembly Debate

  • K.M. Munshi spoke strongly in favour of eliminating the use of the “equivocal” word “sedition” as a legal restriction on free speech in the Constituent Assembly.
  • Should the word remain in the Draft Constitution, according to K.M. Munshi, “an incorrect perception would be produced that we might want to perpetuate Section 124A of the I.P.C.”
  • The law had always been meant to be used to suppress dissent and all other forms of opposition to the government.
  • Munshi’s proposal was approved without any complications. A restriction on free expression based on sedition was prohibited under the newly enacted Constitution.
  • However, administrations all over India persisted in accusing people of the crime.
  • Two different high courts invalidated Section 124A as being in violation of freedom in the 1950s. However, in the case of Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar, a 5-judge Supreme Court Bench overruled these judgments in 1962.
  • The Court determined that Section 124A may be justified as a legitimate restriction on free expression on the basis of maintaining public order.
  • The Court retained the clause, but it only applied to conduct that had the aim or propensity to cause disruption, a disturbance of law and order, or encourage violence.

Sedition: Indian Penal Code

It is defined under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code as an offense committed when a person tries or attempts to bring contempt or enmity, or attempts to excite dissatisfaction toward the system of government established by law in India through spoken or written words, signs, visible representations, or other means.

However, disloyalty and all adverse feelings are included in disaffection. However, expressions that do not incite or seek to incite hatred, contempt, or disaffection shall not be considered violations of this section.

Punishment: Sedition carries a sentence of either life imprisonment or a sentence that might last three years or with fine. Everyone is entitled to freedom of speech and expression enshrined under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution.

Role of Judiciary: Supreme Court Before the Amendment

  • In the case of S.G. Vombatkere v Union of India (2022), has brought the validity of Sedition as an offense before the Supreme Court. It has chosen to put Section 124A on hold. All prospective and existing trials, hearings, as well as appeals were halted, according to the Apex court, while the center re-examines Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.
  • All ongoing trials, hearings, and other Section 124A related proceedings were temporarily paused. When sedition is combined with other provisions, the court may allow the proceedings if it finds that the defendant would not suffer an injustice.

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Sedition Law: Current Updates

The statute against sedition has been repealed, the home minister added. On closer scrutiny, it becomes clear that the important clause is just given a new name and an expanded explanation of the offense. Among other things, the bill aims to rewrite Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which classifies sedition as an offense “endangering sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.”

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Sedition Law: Proposed Amendments

  • Sedition is an offense covered in Section 150 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill of 2023. Instead of using the word “sedition,” it refers to the offense as “endangering the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.”
  • By extending the period of imprisonment from three years to seven years and adding procedural protections, it is intended to enhance the provision.
  • The new rule encompasses actions of financial support as well as “subversive activities” or those that incite “feelings of separatist activity.

Significance of Sedition Law

  • The legislation forbids elements that are anti-national, separatist, and terrorist from upsetting the peace, stirring up violence, and sowing dissension.
  • The government in power benefits from its stability because without it, attempts to violently and unlawfully overturn it would be more likely to succeed.
  • It is consistent with defiance of the law. The elected government is a crucial part of the executive. Disobedience of government can be reduced as a result.


The “King is Supreme” principle is upheld by edition, a colonial statute. It has no place in the modern world, which prioritizes human liberty over all else. Sedition has been repealed in order to guarantee the exercise of the right to dissent. Healthy conflict shouldn’t be punished so that it can advance the nation. Therefore, the nation must create a culture of exchange of opinions and openness for various opinions.

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