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Law Commission backs Sedition law, says 'colonial-era' provision not valid ground for repeal
New Delhi: Backing for the continuance of Sedition law in the system, the Law Commission of India has said that the Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) needs to be retained due to the "internal security threats" and to prevent offences against the state, however, certain amendments may be introduced in the provisions.
The commission in its report to the Law Ministry, stated that threats exist to India's internal security, and that the freedom of citizens can be ensured only when the security of the state is ensured. It further that social media has a 'proliferating' role in propagating radicalisation against India and bringing the Government into hatred, many a time at the "initiation and facilitation of foreign powers". This all the more requires that Section 124A be in place.
Calling Sedition "reasonable restriction" under Article 19 (2), the Law Commission pointed out that the Supreme Court while dealing with the constitutionality of Section 124A held that the law was 'constitutional' as the restriction it sought to impose was a reasonable restriction.
"Laws like the UAPA and NSA are special laws that seek to prevent the commission of offences targeted towards the State. The law of sedition seeks to prevent the violent, illegal and unconstitutional overthrow of a democratically elected government established by law. Other laws contain much more stringent provisions," it further stated.
The Commission also said that just because the law is from 'colonial' times, it is not a "valid ground" for its repeal.
"If sedition is considered to be a colonial-era law, then by that virtue, the entire framework of the Indian legal system is a colonial legacy. The mere fact that a legal provision is colonial in its origin does not ipso facto validate the case for its repeal," it stated.
It further added that every country has to grapple with its "own set of realities" and the sedition law "should not be repealed" merely because other countries have done so.
The Law Commission in its report, also made certain recommendations regarding amendments in the provision including mandatory preliminary investigation, procedural safeguards and revision in punishment.
"Implementation of the Supreme Court Kedar Nath judgment to bring about more clarity in the interpretation, understanding and usage of the sedition law. A mandatory preliminary investigation to ascertain evidence be ordered by a police officer before registration of an FIR for sedition and other procedural safeguards through the issuance of model guidelines can also be taken by the Centre," the Commission stated in its recommendations.
It further added, "The provision regarding punishment for sedition be revised to allow for greater room in accordance with the scale and gravity of the act. The law be amended to include that there has to be a tendency to incite violence or public disorder".
The constitutionality of Section 124A of IPC was challenged before the Supreme Court.
The Union of India assured the Supreme Court that it was re-examining Section 124A and the court may not invest its valuable time in doing the same. Pursuant to the same and vide order passed on May 11, 2022, the Supreme Court directed the central government and all state governments to refrain from registering any FIR or taking any coercive measures, while suspending all continuing investigations in relation to Section 124A. Further, it also directed that all pending trials, appeals, and proceedings be kept in abeyance. (ANI)