Updated: Apr 25
“The rectitude of constitution lies in the effectiveness of fundamental rights of individuals” Recently , the term sedition has grasped ample space among new headlines.It has spread across newsrooms to courts. Two recent cases, Bihar court directing FIR against 49 persons who signed an open letter to PM expressing concerns over mob lynching, second invoking sedition charges against the organizers of a school play in Karnataka. Before contending the need to invoke sedition charges ,let’s talk about the roots of the law, it would help us to understand its fundamental of applications.
Origin: Sedition law originated in 17th century England, to repress the dissents as law makers found it peril for monarchy. It was later introduced in Indian Penal Code in 1870. It was first evoked against Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1897. Later Gandhi ji was also convicted under the same law for writing columns that British found disdainful.
Amendments: In 1950 , Brij Bhushan vs state of Delhi and Romesh Thappar vs State of Madras, Supreme Court’s decision led to first constitutional amendment replacing “undermining the security of the state” with “in the interest of public order”. Later, in Kedar Nath vs State Of Bihar Supereme Court contoured the limits while validating constitutionality of Section 124A. Court upheld its constitutionality , and at the same time imposed some limits that it can be only imposed only in case of “acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder” or “ disturbance of law or incitement of violence”, leaving space for showing dissent ,and criticism of government policies. Hence, invoking sedition in the aforementioned cases stands a s a batter on the constitutional system and the fundamental rights which the constitution guarantees. Bihar court’s directions are detrimental to the basic spirit of democracy, and so is the action of Karnataka administration against the organisers of school play.