Does being ‘anti-national’ attracts Sedition?

Shrikrishna S.Kachave

The provision of sedition is given in the section 124A of the Macaulay’s penal code (read as IPC) Sedition—Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards,  the Government estab­lished by law in India, shall be punished with im­prisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with impris­onment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

Sedition being a very comprehensive term, is too complex to be bounded within any restricted sphere of interpretation. And thus, the police machinery which often acting on the behest of their political bosses severely fail to fulfil their allegiance to the oath of conducting a fair and unbiased investigation in the case.

The explanation 1 to this section provides that the expression “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. However, this disaffection may be excited in a thousand different ways viz. a poem, an allegory, a drama, a philosophical or historical discussion may be used to incite disaffection. And so the question arises, whether any such way can excite public disorder? If the answer to this lies in affirmation, then an intrinsic query which should further arise in our mind is, to what extent?

The citizens of India are free to criticise the governments at the Centre or in the states and which they do quite frequently and fearlessly. And they even must, as India is the largest democracy of the world and democracy should be a participatory form of democracy including one’s right to dissent as well. As they say, “Dissent is the true form of Patriotism”.

Sedition in India is not unconstitutional but it merely remains as an offence only if the words; spoken or written, are enjoined with disorder and violence and/or incitement to disorder or violence resulting it into brining or in attempt to bring hatred or contempt towards the Government of India. Mere hooliganism, disorder and other forms of violence, though punishable under other provisions of the penal code and under the sections of its corresponding laws, are not punishable under the Section 124A of Indian penal code. Article 19(1)(a) of our Constitution guarantees us with the freedom of speech and expression, which forms the fundamental right of every citizen and that “sedition” has been deliberately and designedly excluded by the frames of our Indian Constitution from Article 19(2), the exception clause to this free speech.

Sedition has been in trend with those ruling the reign, since the time of history and even Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the Father of our Nation have been witnesses to this crime. In the present time, taking cognisance of such instances, the Supreme Court has always cautioned the authorities against exhibiting a very casual approach and thereby snatching the right of the liberty of that citizen, which itself infringes Art.21 of the Constitution.

To turn matters from bad to worse, is the media which plays the role of an antagonist by running a media trial in the unfair competition in order to increase their TRPs. Thus, frivolous questions are raised by the electronic media in their debates and discussions, which endears to more threat and creation of confusion in the society. Amidst this rat race of media competitors, truth is often suppressed, facts are misled and the right to reputation of an accused is suffered. And not just the right of that accused, but also the morality of his or her family is put to doubt by the society and they too get shattered in this imbroglio. Now don’t these falsely made alleged stories calls for an action of defamation? Why does media forget that they are the fourth pillar of our democratic structure and if any one of these pillar gets disrupted, the whole edifice of democracy may collapse?

We often tend to forget that the Constitution enshrines the accused with Art.20 i.e. Protection in respect of conviction for offences which also means that an accused is not said to be guilty until and unless his/her guilt is proved beyond any reasonable doubt.

Thus hoping that the natural justice prevails and the bells of justice sound loud; I would say that of course, being an anti-national citizen obviously doesn’t mean, what is called as ‘sedition’.

Shrikrishna S.Kachave is a socio-political commentator,student at law and aspire to make a mark in human rights activism.

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