The Law Commission has submitted a report to the government stating that the law on sedition should not be repealed solely on the basis that it is a “colonial legacy.” The commission argues that repealing the law altogether could have serious adverse consequences for the security and integrity of the country. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with sedition, is currently suspended following directions from the Supreme Court in May 2022. The commission recommends that the provision be retained with certain safeguards to prevent misuse.
Calls for Repeal Amid Misuse Allegations
There have been demands for the repeal of the sedition law due to allegations of misuse. However, the Law Commission emphasizes that the existence of misuse does not necessarily warrant a call for repeal. Instead, the commission suggests that model guidelines should be issued by the Centre to curb the misuse of the law. The commission further suggests the incorporation of a provision similar to Section 196(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure as a safeguard before filing a First Information Report (FIR) related to an offense under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.
Safeguards and Procedural Guidelines
The Law Commission acknowledges the need for procedural guidelines to prevent the misuse of the sedition law by law enforcement authorities. However, it emphasizes that the misuse of a provision does not automatically justify its repeal. The commission argues that instead of repealing the law, efforts should be made to introduce legal ways and means to prevent its misuse. While adequate safeguards can rein in any alleged misuse, repealing the provision entirely could have serious adverse ramifications for the security and integrity of the country.
Context and Background
The offense of sedition is often referred to as a colonial legacy due to its history of usage against India’s freedom fighters. However, the Law Commission states that the colonial legacy is not a valid ground for repeal. It also highlights that other laws, such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the National Security Act, do not cover all elements of the offense envisaged under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. The commission emphasizes the importance of Section 124A in dealing with expressions that incite violence against the government, which would otherwise fall under special laws and counter-terror legislations with more stringent provisions.
In conclusion, the Law Commission’s report recommends retaining the law on sedition, citing the need for safeguards and procedural guidelines to prevent its misuse. It argues against repealing the law solely based on its colonial legacy and emphasizes the potential adverse consequences for the security and integrity of the country.
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