Posted on: November 11, 2020 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

Author : Dhananjai Singh Rajawat, Student at Manipal University, Jaipur.

Co-Author : Anushka Singh Gahlout, Student at Manipal University, Jaipur.


This research paper aims to critically and theoretically scrutinize the law of sedition under section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The recent case in which sedition laws were cited multiple times raised concerns again about the undemocratic existence and legitimacy of those laws in today’s constitutional democracy. Every person has the fundamental right to free speech and expressions in a democratic country like India. Even if the law of sedition allows fair limitations on this right, the scope of that law is a matter of prime importance. The unconstitutional charge of an individual for the offense of sedition in our country where rule of law exists is an act that is not in line with constitutionalism. This paper is an effort to unite all the discussions regarding the abrogation and modification of these rules. In our democratic culture, it seems unjustified that this rule remains in our statutory books and its criminalization. Also, the legislation was enforced for a particular reason by a colonial autocratic regime that does not cover a constitutionally elected government after independence. The methodology used in this paper is focused solely on the doctrinal analysis process. The study applies to books, newspapers, journals, and newspapers, online literature, and so on. A review of sedition proceedings before the High Court and the Supreme Court reveals that sedition offenses are becoming steadily overdue. Instead, public order issues that the legislation supposedly tackles-be solved by other laws that have been passed for that purpose.

Keywords: constitution, sedition, freedom, law, freedom of speech and expression, fundamental right, reasonable restrictions, etc.


The Indian legislature has made tremendous strides in different areas of law. For a country’s growth, legislation is not the instrument of growth; a good law is the instrument of advancement. Nearly everything India now has either belongs or has its roots in colonial times. Many of this legislation was only used for repression of the Indian “subjects,” but they sadly have found a place in the time after freedom, and are becoming like the laws of sedition a topic of considerable controversy.

Freedom of expression and speech is one of democracy’s most significant basic rights. Freedom of expression enables a person to convey his or her views. It is among the most essential aspects of a stable, open-minded society and the basis of every free democracy. If the speeches or the terms-

  1. Carry or try to render hate or dislike, or
  2. Encourage or threaten to encourage disaffection with the Indian law-making government.

The Sedition Act may be applied.

The Constitution of India under Article 19 (1) (a) states that “all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.” This article was provided in the constitution since it was thought that the freedom to express one’s opinion without any fear of repercussion is one of the main features of any democratic country. The Constitution itself empowers every citizen to criticize the government, have a differing opinion and it is only through discussion and debates that any society develops into a better society. Although Article 19(1) (a) provides for freedom of speech and expression keeping in mind the misuse of this freedom the Constitution however through Article 19(2) provides for reasonable restriction on the right.

In the Maneka Gandhi V. Union of India, Bhagwati J. stressed, “Democracy fundamentally relies on free debate and open discussion, for this was the best correction of governmental action in a democratic environment.” “Free debate, freedom of speech and expression,” he said.- If democracy means people’s government, it is evident that every citizen should be able to engage in the democratic system, and to encourage themselves to use their right to choose intelligently, it is necessary to have a free and broad public debate.

The laws concerning sedition have had a range of interpretations and consequences since their independence to make them pass the test of constitutionality, but they still serve as a force to suppress freedom of speech, being a tool for many authorities nowadays who use it for the persecution of people, like the authorities of the colonial period. The law was applied by the leaders of the colonial regime for a particular reason and they do not find relevance to society today. The analyses by the different Indian courts of the enforcement of sedition laws demonstrate how they have been obsolete for the current society. Other laws that apply in the country can easily accomplish that goal that is pursued by the implementation of sedition legislation and the law does not achieve a specific objective.

This work aims as to how sedition laws are now outdated for modern society in India since they are supposedly being used for the same purposes as colonial government, namely widespread exploitation. This research analyzes how the different courts have applied it incorrectly and unfairly. The sedition law has become ambiguous in society today as barriers universally mean all cases because the Indian situation has changed over the 146 years as it was enforced.

In the past several individuals have been condemned as anti-national by the ruled Central & State governments in India as applying sedition laws. We find that the concepts of nationalism of the various groups are distinct. The real nature of nationalism is often complicated to recognize. Some essential clarifications are therefore required to understand the subject in the correct context.

In Nazir Khan v. Delhi State, the Supreme Court of India addressed the nature and the objects of sedition. The Court held that sedition is almost allied with this rebellion to a crime toward society and therefore it always precedes treason with a small timeframe. Sedition itself is an all-embracing concept that includes all the practices calculated to disrupt the peace of the State, whether by speech, deed, or written means, leading ignorant people to seek to subvert the government and the laws of the nation. Sedition seeks generally to cause discontent or resentment, establish national disorder and lead to civil war; and it is the sedition itself that is aimed at inciting citizens to revolt or protest against it.


The rule of Sedition is a draconian colonial relic, reminding us of our colonial history. In particular, section 113 of Thomas Macauley’s draught Penal Code stored the crime of sedition, but for some irresponsible reason, the final design implemented in 1860 dropped the crime. But in the 1870s, after the Wahhabi Movement prompted them to make that the sedition section was redrafted and inserted by the British. The movement had been involved since the 1830s and became an armed protest after the 1857 rebellion. The British passed the law of sedition at that time and in the 1870s suppressed the movement completely.

It was soon after the IPC, in 1860, that this law was implemented and, following this Act of 1870 on the Penal Code of India. Section 124 A was added to this amending act. The amendment was made on the proposal of the then Indian government lawyer, Sir James Stephen. According to several law professors, a mistake led to the failure to include the sedition legislation in the Indian Penal Code, a further elaboration that the British government desired to implement more broad-based media strategies. The rule of sedition has continued to be used since it was launched in 1870 to restrict voices of dissent, dissidence, and government criticism. The Government of India, however, made few amendments in the section in 1937 while Adapting Indigenous Rules. The term “British India” has been replaced by India; ‘provinces’ have been replaced by the terms ‘State,’ and ‘Her Majesty’ has been repealed.


Section 124A of the India Penal Code defines sedition, “Whoever, 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 up to three years, to which fine may be added or with fine.”

Sedition is a cognizable non-bailable crime and penalties for such an act vary from three years to a lifetime of imprisonment for which a penalty can be added in comparison with other IPC offenses. Also, a fine is considered to be harsh. Such a person who commits the sedition act shall be prohibited by governmental law and shall live without his or her passport and stand before the Court at the appropriate time. Section 95 of the Criminal Procedure Code deals with the government’s right to surrender, on a prescribed basis, content punishable by section 124 A. Chapter X of the CrPC involves the preservation of public order and peace and requires the police, the judge, and the military to dispel the illegitimate state assembly by using force and restoring public order where appropriate.

According to Section 2(o) of this Act, the cases of withdrawals or of territorial integrity that are supportive and which trigger or aim to trigger discontent with India fall within the scope of the unlawful activities. Action against India (Prevention Act, 1967) Section 13 punishes illegal activity with seven years’ imprisonment and a fine.

These three constitute the origin of India’s sedition law. The IPC section describes sedition and what sedition can be, while section 95 of the CrPC empowers the institution to follow a suitable procedure. The Law on Sedition was strengthened under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1987.


Since its creation in 1950, only thirty-eight sedition cases have been taken by the Supreme Court of India and six judgments have been handled where the crime has been thoroughly discussed. That leads of course to two conclusions: (1) the crime of sedition hasn’t been misused to the degree it has been hyped and (2) the sedition has been dealt with by the courts in a reasonably limited and restricted fashion. This is the case. Below is a very brief summary of the Supreme Court’s approach to the subject. The courts in the period of pre-independence had defined sedition as quite narrowly expressing the word „ disaffection, “arguing that the sum of disaffection and the cause of the real disruption was not necessary for the offense of sedition.

Romesh Thapar v. the State of Madras, Section 124A of the IPC has been ruled unconstitutional during the first sedition case ruling by the Supreme Court because it falls within the meaning of Article 19(2) of the Act. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional force in Kedar Nath Singh v. Bihar state, but also at the same time restricting its significance and scope to actions that specifically indicated a propensity to cause public disorder. In future cases, such a narrow understanding of the word was retained and adopted too. The Court has said, “in particular sedition is aimed at discontent and uprising and ensuring opposition against the government and at disdaining the judicial process, and the very tendency of sedition is to encourage rebellion.” The court’s method has shown an inability to give the crime of sedition a wide range and limited it to the smallest possible margin.

Nevertheless, Aseem Trivedi’s recent arrests, some students in Kashmiri and many others indicate a strong division of the law’s establishment and enforcement. The contradictions between the high judiciary, lower judiciary, and police have led to a situation in which the law is being mocked.


The offense of sedition is becoming ambiguous for India now. A review of I.P.C. shows that under the other regulations the offense that the sedition attempts to address could be very well coated and thus also makes Section 124A As outdated,.

The sedition law as it has been enforced in contemporary England was much broader than in India. The Legislative Committee suggested that it be scrapped because only a handful was responsible for it over the century.

The Committee based its document on the fact that the crimes covered by the law were highly subject to the various laws laid down in different statutory provisions. The parliamentary debates in Britain about the abolition of the law referred, in particular, to the incoherent effect of such rules on political freedom in British India.

The British revoked sedition legislation because it was outdated; the government rarely employed the massive arm of criminal law toward trenchant State critics. Thus, by adopting the Coroners and Justice Act of 2009, the offense of seditious libel was outlawed.

If we examine in chapter VII of the I.P.C., which concerns public tranquility offenses, we can see that this deals with crimes that impact public order, social peace, and other associated crimes that damage the preservation of order and harmony. The current understanding of the crime of sedition as inciting violence and disruptive public order, which practically has its basic principles, is therefore strongly protected by and also, the national governments have come up with laws for the protection of the public order in the current scenario.

Therefore there seems to be no need for a central law enforcing the same offense, which has no universal scope in society, in the light of the separate laws of the states and those in the I.P.C. The other regulation is less rigorous and more suited to the same function as it can be implemented evenly. The best asset of this is that the suspects convicted of this crime are not deemed to be ‘traitors’ long until they can show their guilt and therefore give them an opportunity for an ordinary life like ‘all prisoners’ after their incarceration is over or they are acquitted. Therefore, the present statute of sedition is contrary to the distributive judicial system as of this punitive law theory. 


The research follows a qualitative and doctrinal approach. The knowledge comes from secondary sources, such as books, papers, jurisdictions, journals, legal reviews, etc. The report is original and the origins of this research paper have been properly noted. Descriptive analyses and interpretation of court rulings require a critical review and assessment. Sources like the Supreme Court of India and other courts in India and elsewhere are reviewed in the course of research.

The study begins by explaining the Articles of the Indian and Indian Penal Code Constitution which provide for different rights and restrictions to freedom of expression in India. Then the research focuses on the goal of ‘Whether the law on sedition is enforced in India.’ Few case laws relating to Sedition law have been reviewed to obtain a clearer understanding. Finally, the study contrasts the Sedition Law in India and elsewhere.


In simple words, sedition is an offense by trying to promote discontent or dissatisfaction amongst States subjects in a speech, behavior, or publication that tackles the Sovereign, ministers, officers, or judges by inciting hatred or disdain in the masses, even to try and instill a mass in the constitution to obstruct or undermine the peace and order of the Nation that is considered. No act shall be seditious except if its evil intentions reveal a significant area or give a significant number of people a bad example. Written seditious words are known as Seditious Libel. A seditionist is defined as an individual who conducts the sedition.

The moment has arrived to stand strong to revise the case of Kedar Nath Singh in favor of the sedition law and broad range of powers bestowed on the government to restrict the freedom of speech and expression under the so-called State Protection and Public Interest. Equality of speech and expression can also be seen as a remark and a critique of State or Government functions and recognition of the hypocrisy of a few political backers. The democratic sovereign’s position is instrumental in assuring that popular sentiments are balanced against sedition to enforce the legislative laws required for the nation’s intent in the interest of the public, and in ensuring freedom of speech and expression.

Furthermore, the Sedition should be reinterpreted to ensure its users about the words, deeds, and publications that followed against the Nation, rather than the government, as the concept of a democratic country is the engagement of debates on both sides. Transparency, transparency, popular participation, equality, and inclusion in the democratic political system can all be guaranteed, through the defense of Article 19, clause 2, and through the striking down of every law contrary to that Article. John Stuart Mill has therefore articulately begun to voice the importance of the freedom of speech to ensure that ideas and expression are openly exchanged in society and to foster a society’s prosperity, the voice of the individual should not be curbed as opposed as possible.


1.    An analysis of sedition law in India


3. A Critical Analysis Of Sedition Law In India

4. Sedition Law: A comparative view in India with other countries



6.    A Theoretical Analysis of the Law on Sedition in India


7.    Sedition law in India,in%20India%20shall%20be%20punished


9. Mukherjee, M., 2017. Sedition, Law, and the British Empire in India: The Trial of Tilak (1908). Law, Culture and the Humanities, p.1743872116685034.


11. See KI, Vibhute PS Pillai’s Criminal Law 335 Lexis Nexis Butterworths, Nagpur, 2012. 2. Kedar Nath, Singh v. State of Bihar, AIR, 1962, 955. 3. Romesh Thapar v. State of Madras, AIR, 1950, 124.

12. Criminal libel and sedition offenses abolished, PRESS GAZETTE,(Jan. 13, 2010),


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