SECTION 124A (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     13th September 2023        

Context: Recently, the Supreme Court referred the issue of the constitutional validity of the controversial sedition offense, defined in Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, to a five-judge bench for deliberation.

Section 124A of the IPC

  • Sedition Definition: It delineates sedition as an act where an individual, through spoken or written words, signs, visible representations, or any other means, endeavors to incite hatred or contempt, or provokes disaffection towards the legally established government in India.
  • Understanding Disaffection: Disaffection encompasses disloyalty and all forms of enmity. However, it's crucial to note that remarks that do not aim to stir up hatred, contempt, or disaffection will not qualify as an offense under this section.
  • SC's Clarification: In the case of Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab (1995), the Supreme Court emphasized the importance of considering the true intent behind a speech before classifying it as seditious.
  • Punishment under Section 124A: Punishment under the law varies from imprisonment up to three years to a life term and fine.

Sedition Law

  • About: The British government introduced the sedition law, found in Section 124A of the IPC, in 1870 as a means to suppress opposition to colonial rule.
  • Addition by Thomas Babington Macaulay: The original version of the IPC, established in 1860, did not include this provision; it was added by Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1870.