According to the Law Commission of India, which supports the continuation of the Sedition Law in the system, Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) must be kept in place due to threats to internal security and to prevent crimes against the state; however, some amendments may be made to the provisions.
According to the commission’s report to the Law Ministry, there are risks to India’s internal security, and only when the state’s security is ensured can citizens’ freedoms be guaranteed. Additionally, it stated that social media plays a proliferating role in radicalization against India and inflaming public opinion against the government, frequently with the encouragement and support of foreign powers. This makes it even more necessary for Section 124A to be in existence.
The Law Commission referred to Sedition as a reasonable restriction under Article 19 (2) and noted that the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of Section 124A’s validity because the restriction it intended to impose was a reasonable restriction.
“Laws like the UAPA and NSA are special laws that seek to prevent the commission of offences targeted towards the State. The law of sedition seeks to prevent the violent, illegal and unconstitutional overthrow of a democratically elected government established by law. Other laws contain much more stringent provisions,” it further stated.
The Commission also said that just because the law is from ‘colonial’ times, it is not a “valid ground” for its repeal.
“If sedition is considered to be a colonial-era law, then by that virtue, the entire framework of the Indian legal system is a colonial legacy. The mere fact that a legal provision is colonial in its origin does not ipso facto validate the case for its repeal,” it stated.
It further added that every country has to grapple with its own set of realities and the sedition law should not be repealed merely because other countries have done so.
The Law Commission in its report, also made certain recommendations regarding amendments in the provision including mandatory preliminary investigation, procedural safeguards and revision in punishment.
“Implementation of the Supreme Court Kedar Nath judgment to bring about more clarity in the interpretation, understanding and usage of the sedition law. A mandatory preliminary investigation to ascertain evidence be ordered by a police officer before registration of an FIR for sedition and other procedural safeguards through the issuance of model guidelines can also be taken by the Centre,” the Commission stated in its recommendations.
It further added, “The provision regarding punishment for sedition be revised to allow for greater room in accordance with the scale and gravity of the act. The law be amended to include that there has to be a tendency to incite violence or public disorder.”
The constitutionality of Section 124A of IPC was challenged before the Supreme Court.
The Union of India assured the Supreme Court that it was re-examining Section 124A and the court may not invest its valuable time in doing the same.
Pursuant to the same and vide order passed on May 11, 2022, the Supreme Court directed the central government and all state governments to refrain from registering any FIR or taking any coercive measures, while suspending all continuing investigations in relation to Section 124A. Further, it also directed that all pending trials, appeals, and proceedings be kept in abeyance.