Indian Penal Code – Sections in News

Section 377

Section 377 of the Indian penal code defines unnatural offences. The section reads as follows:  “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished”. This section is there in IPC since it was introduced by Lord Macaulay in 1860. One of the grounds of introduction of the section was homosexuality or acts against the order of nature are condemned by the bible. The section has been in news as voices being raised against its being in violation of human rights, harassment and violence against LGBT community. The LGBT community and a part of society wants this section to be repealed. The issue has been sub-judice several times.

Sections 499 and 500

Under sections 499 and 500 of the IPC, a person guilty of criminal defamation can be sent to jail for two years. There are several petitions filed in Supreme Court of India challenging the constitutional validity of sections 499 and 500 of IPC. The petitions contend that the both sections went beyond the restrictions enshrined in Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution and thus constricting the freedom of speech beyond the reasonable limits. The test is in determining whether these sections impairing the freedom of speech beyond reasonable restrictions.

Section 295-A

Section 295A of IPC states that any speech or written text or signs, which maliciously insults or attempts to insult and demean the religious beliefs of any class of people is punishable with imprisonment upto 4 years or fine or both. Such laws are instrumental in tackling deliberate acts of hate speeches which are major source of unrest in many pockets of the world. The law has been highly misused by miscreants who tried to encroach upon the fundamental right of free speech of people if latter expressed a conflicting viewpoint to the former. It has thus led people to self-censor their expression for fear of prosecution.

Section 124-A

Section 124A Of the IPC relates to Sedition. It reads as ‘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.’

The Law Commission of India had undertaken a careful re-examination of Section 124A. In its 42nd report, published in 1971, it wanted the section to be extended to include disaffection towards the Constitution of India, Parliament and state legislatures and the administration of justice.

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