A CASE IN SUPPORT OF RETAINING SECTION 124A (Half-2) – The RMLNLU Regulation Assessment Weblog

By: Prabhat Singh

(This publish is the second of a two-part collection on the subject – ‘A CASE IN SUPPORT OF RETAINING SECTION 124A’)


There are specific, typically repeated, arguments which can be made to assist the case for the revocation of Part 124A. On this half, the writer would analyze these notorious arguments, from the authorized and factual prism.

  • Structure doesn’t Comprise ‘Sedition’ as a Affordable Restriction on Free Speech.

Most frequently it has been argued that because the time period ‘sedition’ is omitted in Clause 2 of Article 19; therefore there isn’t a justification for having ‘sedition’ as an offense in India. Briefly, the argument in opposition to the availability is that its presence within the IPC is at loggerheads with the specific intent of the Constituent Meeting to cast off it.

The above declare must be examined on the touchstone of related debates that occurred about ‘Sedition’.

On the outset, it’s related to level out that few members had been in opposition to the thought of ​​inserting any restrictions on freedom of speech and expression given that this could negate the enforcement of freedom given within the Structure. As regards ‘sedition’ they submitted that the ‘sedition’ shouldn’t be positioned as a restriction for the time period is ambiguous and has been interpreted broadly by courts of regulation.

In response to the above apprehensions, Shri KM Munshi moved modification no. 86. That for modification No. 453 of the Listing of Amendments, the next be substituted:

“.. which undermines the safety of, or tends to overthrow, the State’.”

He additional submitted his explanations for citing the aforesaid modification. He states as follows: “… Sir, ..this modification seeks to delete the phrase ‘sedition’ and makes use of a significantly better phrasing, viz., “which undermines the safety of, or tends to overthrow, the State.” The item is to take away the phrase ‘sedition’ which is of uncertain and ranging import and to introduce phrases which at the moment are thought of to be the gist of an offense in opposition to the State.”

The above amendments as steered by Shri Munshi in the end, within the language of Article 19(2) because it stood on January 26, 1950. From the naked perusal of the above discussions it’s aptly clear that the members weren’t in opposition to the underlying idea of ‘Sedition’, however they actually had reservations in regards to the time period ‘Sedition’, which, I believe, was logical to have given the totally different shades of judicial interpretations the Part has gone by.

On this regard the dissenting opinion in Brij Bhushan v. state, Justice Fazal Ali acknowledges the dilemma our constitutional framers would have been in, owing to the totally different magnitude of judicial interpretations. They weren’t positive in what sense ‘sedition’ must be used; therefore they determined to make use of a extra common phrase that covers acts of sedition.

These observations of the apex court docket led the Parliament to amend clause 2 of article 19, whereby ‘public order’ was added as one of many grounds for curtailment of free speech. It additionally added the phrases ‘cheap restriction’. Notably, this modification was given retrospective impact and has by no means been challenged, concerning this facet. It’s, subsequently, established that our constitutional makers weren’t in opposition to the underlying idea of ‘Sedition’. Therefore, the above declare doesn’t maintain sufficient water.

  • The UK has repealed it; why should not or not it’s Indian?

The opposite argument given in favor of repealing Part 124A is; that because the mom nation has repealed it, there isn’t a logic why India ought to preserve this on the statute e book. The response to this argument is twofold – firstearlier than we bounce on to the conclusion, it might be related to investigate the native circumstances of each India and the UK Importantly, the UK has repealed the regulation on sedition solely after controlling the seditious tendencies (like these of Irish Republican Military) whereas India continues to be struggling in a few areas. It, subsequently, means that the circumstances allowed the UK to repeal the Sedition regulation. That’s actually not the case in India as of but. The 267th report of the Regulation Fee categorically mentions that the rise in using social media and the web led to an increase within the spreading of mal-information containing seditious/hate speeches. secondly, it’s not sagacious to repeal a selected regulation merely as a result of the mom nation has executed away with it; if that’s the case, we’d must repeal/change quite a lot of legal guidelines and practices which were borrowed from Britain. In my view, earlier than we draw any parity between India and the UK, we also needs to analyze the geo-political circumstances as nicely. A current examine carried out by Microsoft exhibits that Hate speech is likely one of the prime dangers for India’s on-line customers. Other than that, we now have parts of separatists, each inside and with out India. It’s, subsequently, submitted that the present socio-political conditions in India and the UK are totally different; subsequently identical yardsticks can’t be used to judge each international locations. We should weigh our native circumstances individually earlier than forming any opinion.

Essentially the most notorious argument in favor of deleting part 124A is its misuse by political events and the federal government. It is likely to be true, however they misuse the regulation can by no means be and will by no means be accepted as a floor for difficult the constitutional validity of that exact regulation. As a result of if that’s accepted as true, then it might set a foul priority, which might open Pandora’s field for litigation, difficult vires of Acts on the bottom of misuse of them. The misuse of a regulation is an issue that lies on the stage of officers and can’t be model as a authorized difficulty as such.

There are information stories and the observations of the apex court docket which counsel that part 498A of IPC [Punishing Cruelty] has been misused so much by sure ladies, for whose safety it was integrated within the first place. Ought to we abolish part 498A then? In Rajesh Sharma v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the apex court docket took judicial discover of the misuse of part 498A and laid down sure tips to cease its misuse. It didn’t repeal the regulation. Equally, the apex court docket has framed tips and issued instructions to cease the misuse of the ability of arrest by police officers. In not one of the circumstances, did the court docket even consider repealing any of the provisions on the bottom of misuse? Additional, in Mafatlal Lal Industries Ltd. v. Union of India, a nine-judge bench of the apex court docket noticed that the them risk of abuse of a provision by these answerable for administering it can’t be a floor for holding a provision procedurally or substantively unreasonable. In a current judgment, whereas dismissing a problem to Part 18A of Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, the Supreme Court docket noticed that ‘presumption can’t be taken that provisions of the Act are misused by members of SC /ST as a category , simply because just a few are lacking them.’ Due to this fact, for my part, misuse of regulation can’t be a floor for its annulment. Reasonably, measures must be taken to stop misuse.

The opposite argument in favor of eradicating Part 124A is that the jurisprudence concerning speech has advanced within the nation, and part 124A doesn’t move the muster of that. Shreya Singhal could be a enough touchstone to testify to the validity of the above declare. Within the case of Shreya Singhal, Part 66A of the Data and Know-how Act, 2000, was declared unconstitutional as a result of it was in direct battle with the basic proper of freedom of speech and expression. The Supreme Court docket held that below the Constitutional scheme, for democracy to thrive, the freedom of speech and expression is a cardinal worth and of paramount significance. The court docket additional noticed that three ideas are elementary in understanding the attain of this [freedom of speech and expression] most simple of human rights. The primary is dialogue, the second is advocacy, and the third is incentive. Mere dialogue and even advocacy of a selected trigger, howsoever unpopular is on the coronary heart of Article 19(1) (a). It is just when such dialogue or advocacy reaches the extent of incitement that Article 19(2) kicks in. It’s at this stage {that a} regulation could also be made curbing the speech or expression that leads inexorably to or tends to trigger public dysfunction or tends to trigger or tends to have an effect on the sovereignty & integrity of India, the safety of the State, pleasant relations with overseas States, and so on.

You will need to word right here that the court docket did notice that freedom of speech exercised past a restrict that tends to incite dysfunction or are likely to have an effect on the sovereignty and integrity of India, safety of State, and so on., could be impermissible. Right here once more, the court docket acknowledged the correct of the State for self-preservation in opposition to undesirable divisive forces.

The perusal of judgment establishes a qualitative distinction between the applying of Part 66A and Part 124A; therefore, no parity must be drawn between part 66A and part 124A to hunt the letter’s annulment as each function in several spheres.


The bounds of free speech are to be judged on the anvils of what quantities to cheap restrictions within the backdrop of Article 19 Clause 2. Within the Kedar Nath, the court docket concluded that the check of reasonableness is glad should you restrict the scope of utility of Part 124A to the scenario the place you made any assertion that quantities to depth of violence. Part 124A is a self-contained provision as a result of it spells out what quantities to sedition and what’s permitted in free speech. The restrictions contained in Part 124A in substance or impact are the identical as contained in clause 2 of article 19. In my view, after receiving the judicial seal and interpretation of a structure bench of the apex court docket of the nation, it’s not cheap to say that Part 124A is a colonial provision, as a result of what’s being utilized immediately within the type of Part 124A, is actually the interpretation given by the court docket in 1962. Primarily based on the aforementioned dialogue it may be inferred that the provisions of part 124A don’t endure from any authorized affirmation.

The Method Ahead

The above discussions make it abundantly clear that Part 124A doesn’t endure from any authorized infirmity. The issue, for my part, lies on the stage of the manager ie police. One of many potential causes may very well be attributed to the overlap between totally different provisions associated to offenses in opposition to the State. In such a scenario a specific amount of knowledge and understanding is required to conclude as to which suppliers should be invoked in a given factual matrix. Therefore, training and correct coaching of cops are warranted. If we don’t work on the actual downside, the issue will stay the identical, revocation wouldn’t assist.

(Prabhat is a regulation undergraduate from Tamil Nadu Nationwide Regulation College, Trichy[2016-2021]. The writer could also be contacted through mail at [email protected])

Cite as: Prabhat Singh, ‘A CASE IN SUPPORT OF RETAINING SECTION 124A(Half-2)’ (The RMLNLU Regulation Assessment Weblog24 July 2022) date of entry