The sedition law has its roots in colonial India, however, it has continued to date. Are there any valid arguments for continuing it in the 21st century in democratic India? Discuss in light of the debate surrounding it.
The sedition law was introduced in colonial India in 1890, on the recommendation of Thomas Macaulay, under section 124A and 156A of IPC. It has remained in force even after independence.
Arguments in favour of continuing the law:
- It enables to counter the anti-national elements that may try to harm the unity, integrity, and sovereignty of India.
- It is essential to put a curb on speech that aims to create public disorder or enmity among communities.
Arguments against the law:
- Frequent misuse of sedition law. The cases under this act have risen gradually, however, the conviction rate remains low around 1-2%.
- Curbs Dissent – Sedition law is often used to curb any criticism of the government, which is essential for the thriving of the economy. It was used during the freedom struggle, against many leaders like Gandhi and Tilak.
- It has been removed or relaxed in most of the democratic countries like USA & UK, that introduced it in India.
- There are plenty of other laws to deal with anti-national activities like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Supreme court in the Kedarnath Singh case (1962) and the Balwant Singh case also highlighted the need for proper implementation of the act and curbing its misuse.