India, to-rethink sedition law

Noble Pettayil Babu

India is trying to change an age-old law to protect human rights and the freedom of nearly 1.4 billion people. Prime Minister Narendra Modi told India’s apex court that it will be re-examining the sedition law in India.

While back to History, the law of sedition was created by the British government as a tool to deal with any harsh criticism of the colonial administration and to employ it against the freedom fighters of the Indian national movement.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak and M.K. Gandhi were among its most famous victims. M.K. Gandhi referred to the law as “the prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) designed to suppress the liberty of the citizens”. However, the statute was not dropped in independent India and now, after over seven decades of independence, people have witnessed a surge in the cases of sedition in recent years. So much so that the Supreme Court of India has questioned the law itself, because this law is widely abused.

If anyone accused of sedition, they don’t get bail. They could go to jail for life. Even if they manage to get out in some years, they will be barred from applying for a government job or for that matter traveling abroad. In 2020, 73 cases of sedition were filed in India, 93 in 2019 at least 70 in 2018 and all of these cases go on to show the disutility of this law. The fact is that in most cases police fail to file a charge sheet because most sedition cases are baseless. In 2011 a private member’s bill against sedition was introduced in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament. In 2015 a private member’s bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament. In 2021 the apex court of India stepped in the chief justice questioned whether sedition was necessary even after 75 years of independence and now, the government has an answer.

The government of India, being fully aware of various views being expressed on the subject of sedition, and also having considered the concerns of civil liberties, and human rights, while committed to maintain and protect the sovereignty and integrity of this great nation, and decided to re-examine and reconsider the provisions of section 124a of the Indian penal code.