Law commission

The Law Commission had called for a rethink or repeal of the Sedition Act in 2018

In the consultation paper, the government’s top law advisory committee argued that any irresponsible exercise of the right to free speech and expression cannot be called seditious.

Amid calls to scrap the colonial-era Sedition Act, it emerged the Law Commission had called for an overhaul or repeal in 2018, saying any irresponsible exercise of the right to liberty of speech and expression cannot be called seditious. In the consultation document, the government’s top law advisory committee said that in a democracy singing from the same songbook was not a benchmark of patriotism.

If the country is not open to positive reviews, there is little difference between the pre- and post-independence eras, the Commission said. He also said that expressing frustration with the state of affairs cannot be treated as sedition.

Shouldn’t sedition be redefined in a country like India the largest democracy in the world, considering that the right to freedom of speech and expression is an essential ingredient of democracy guaranteed as a fundamental right by our Constitution? he asked.

He wondered whether, given that all existing laws cover the various offenses against the individual and/or offenses against society, reducing the stringency of section 124A or repealing it would be detrimental or beneficial to the nation.

The Commission noted that while it is essential to protect national integrity, it should not be misused as a tool to restrict freedom of expression.

Dissent and criticism are essential ingredients for vigorous public debate on political issues in a vibrant democracy. Therefore, every restriction on freedom of speech and expression should be carefully considered to avoid unjustified restrictions, he noted.

The Commission stressed that any irresponsible exercise of the right to freedom of speech and expression cannot be called seditious.

For simply expressing a thought that is not in line with government policy at the time, a person should not be charged under the article, he said.

The Commission observed that the expression of frustration with the state of affairs, for example, calling India a “country for women”, or a “racist country” for its obsession with skin color as a marker of beauty, are criticisms that do not threaten “the idea of ​​nation.

As debate intensified over whether the law should be repealed due to its alleged abuse by government authorities, the Union government told the Supreme Court on Monday (May 9) not to “invest of time” in considering its validity as it has decided to go for a review of the provisions by a competent body.

The Union government has also said it is aware of various views and concerns regarding civil liberties while committed to protecting the sovereignty and integrity of this great nation.

The Interior Ministry, in an affidavit, referenced Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s views on disposing of colonial baggage, and said it was in favor of protecting civil liberties and respecting human rights. rights, and in this spirit, over 1,500 outdated laws and over 25,000 compliance obligations have been removed.

A bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli had said on May 5 that they would hear arguments on May 10 on the legal issue of whether the pleas challenging the colonial-era criminal law on sedition were to be referred to a larger bench to reconsider the 1962 verdict of a five-judge constitution bench in the Kedar Nath Singh case.

In the Kedar Nath Singh case, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the sedition law but attempted to verify the scope of its misuse. The Supreme Court has ruled that unless accompanied by incitement or call for violence, criticism of the government does not qualify as sedition.