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09 MAY, 2017 (MAINS)



Q1. Tilak and Gandhiji were both charged under the Section 124A of IPC for committing sedition during the early years of the national movement. What crime had they committed? What was their reaction? Should this provision of the IPC be removed once India gained independence? Critically comment. (200 Words)


Please write the answer in comments section

  • Osho Korde

    • Bal Gangadhar Tilak, was charged with sedition on two occasions. In 1897, he was charged for speeches that allegedly incited violence and resulted in the killings of two British officers. Mr. Tilak was convicted but got bail in 1898. In another incident in 1909, he was prosecuted for sedition for his articles in newspaper ‘Kesari’.
    He maintained he was innocent but was convicted and sent to jail for six years.
    • The father of our nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was jailed under the charges of sedition. Mahatma Gandhi was arrested by the British police on March 10 in 1922 for writing three ‘politically sensitive’ articles in his weekly journal Young India, which was published from 1919 to 1932.
    Gandhi said “Section 124-A under, which I am happily charged, is perhaps the prince among the political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen”.

    • According to supreme court criticism against the government policies and decisions within a reasonable limit that does not incite people to rebel is consistent with freedom of speech and expression.
    • Sedition law should stay, but its interpretation must be specific and not wide-ranging as in British era

  • Ashish

    Sedition is a criminal offence in the IPC under section 124A and provides for inter alia sentence of life imprisonment and fine upon conviction.
    Tilak and Gandhiji: Similar charges Different reactions
    Tilak was booked for inciting the hatred which led to the killing of Plague commissioner Rand by Chapekar brothers and he refused to acknowledge the crime. Mahatma Gandhi was booked, but he acknowledged that he was guilty even when he knew that he was innocent. Gandhiji had described “sedition” as the prince of IPC.

    Post Independence: To have It or To Remove It
    • View of constitution framers:
    The founding fathers of our constitution, in view of their bitter experience of the application of the sedition law by colonial regime, deliberately omitted “sedition” as one of the permissible grounds of restriction under Article 19(2)
    • View of Supreme Court
    In Kedarnath vs State of Bihar 1963, SC observed that a citizen has a right to say or write whatever he likes about the government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comment, so long as he does not incite people to violence against the government established by law, or with the intention of creating public disorder.SC limited the application of Section 124A to acts involving incitement to violence

    Why it needs to continue on the statute book?
    • There may be cases where Section 124A can be legitimately invoked.
    • It provides law enforcement agencies with a tool to curb the blatant misuse of the Freedom of expression guaranteed by Indian constitution
    • It helps to deal with cases involving Maoists, Terrorists etc who may espouse armed revolt against the state

    Therefore, retain the section but strike down actions not in conformity with the section.

    Way Forward:
    • Appropriate penalties imposed on those, including lawyers, who invoke Section 124A wantonly
    • Judicial officers should not entertain manifestly ill-founded complaints