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Section 124

Topic covered:

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Section 124

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Section 124, need for, concerns and alternatives available.

 

Context: The Union government has no plans to repeal sedition law as it is needed to effectively combat anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai told Rajya Sabha.

 

What is Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code?

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 shall be punished with imprisonment for life or any shorter term, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

 

Why should it be scrapped?

Draconian laws such as the Section 124-A only serve to give a legal veneer to the regime’s persecution of voices and movements against oppression by casting them as anti-national.

 

What has Supreme Court ruled?

The Supreme Court has persistently held that for the offence of sedition to be satisfied, there has to be a causal relationship between speech and acts of violence, and mere speech, regardless of how subversive it is, does not amount to sedition.

 

Short term measures to be put up in place:

  • All speech-related offences should be made bailable offences; this would lessen the harmful impact of using arrest and custody as a way of harassing anyone exercising their rights under Article 19(1)(a).
  • The offences should be made non-cognisableso that there is at least a judicial check on the police acting on the basis of politically motivated complaints.
  • In the case of hate speech, it is important to raise the burden of proof on those who claim that their sentiments are hurt rather than accept them at face value. And finally, it is crucial that courts begin to take action against those who bring malicious complaints against speech acts.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

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