Sedition Charges- Threat to democratic values - Seeker's Thoughts

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Sedition Charges- Threat to democratic values


Sedition meant to conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch. It is often misused by the government against the people when they criticize the government. 
                                                               credits - india today
          The ‘sedition’ has been misused various times against celebrities, writers, artists.
The Supreme Court has mentioned in Lalita Kumari vs Uttar Pradesh case that the registration of an FIR is mandatory if information received by the police discloses as cognizable offense and in some cases preliminary inquiry may be conducted. 
The magistrate has the power to order a police investigation into the cognizable offense.
The national debate on retaining the sedition comes on the surface, when sensitive matters demand attention like in October 2019, there was an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop lynching, and other hate crimes, especially in the name of religion. Sometimes the sedition charges are political tools against free speech. 

  Section 124- A of the Indian Penal Code was enacted under colonial rule. It was used against the freedom fighters who spoke against the British Rule. 

The problem started arising even after post-independence the rule remained into practice. This was used against activists, detractors, writers, and even cartoonists.
Since Independence, even after there have been voices against it, it survived. 

                                      
The Problems and issues 

There are certain questions that arise from time to time, as for how far is it justified for India to retain an offense introduced by the British to suppress freedom struggle. 
The basic charges of seditions are taken from the British rules, while they already abolished it a decade ago,
The Law Commission of India has visited the section various times, and every time it retained. 
Democracy is under threat

Under the present law, strong criticism against government policies and personalities, etc. are treated as seditious which shush the spirit of democracy. Criticism has to be a part of democracy so that the government abstains from being tyrannical. However, constitutional provisions give the government power to silence the discontentment.

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It comes under the punishable offense, and punishment includes Imprisonment for life and fine, or imprisonment for 3 years and fine, or fine. It is cognizable and Non-bail able—Triable by Court of Session—Non- compoundable, which makes it dangerous for the freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(2) of fundamental rights.

The other dimension- This article 124 A is often seen as a reasonable restriction to the right to speech. However, great freedom fighters suffered from it, and Gandhi also opposed to the sedition law. 

                                              
A way ahead- Criticism against the government policies and decisions within a reasonable limit does not entice people to rebel is consistent with freedom of speech and expression. 

The law lacks fairness and transparency There are certain grey areas which have to be corrected. The change is only permanent, and societies change. The government should not restrict criticism, as it will rise to discontent among people.

A person can not be branded anti-national because they disagree with the government in power, as in democracy, citizens have a right to write and have a voice.  
                                              

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