Criticism without incitement to violence isn’t sedition

• As many as 14 students of Aligarh Muslim University Wednesday were booked for charges of sedition under Section 124A and other sections of the IPC for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans.

• Some AMU students reportedly got into an altercation with reporters of a media organisation on campus during a protest they had staged ahead of AIMIM lawmaker Asaduddin Owaisi’s visit to the university on Tuesday.

• According to the police, the violence spread outside the campus and a Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM) worker was assaulted by the protesting students.

What is sedition?

• The Indian Penal Code defines Section 124A of the IPC as an offence committed when any person by words or otherwise brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the government established by law.

• Three explanations were added to the provision that laid down ‘disaffection’ as inclusive of disloyalty and all feelings of enmity, while comments without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, will not constitute an offence.

What is not sedition?

• What does not constitute as sedition is when “comments, however strongly worded, expressing disapprobation of actions of the Government, without exciting those feelings which generate the inclination to cause public disorder by acts of violence”.

• “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,” the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court maintained during ruled in the Kedar Nath case of 1962.

• It added that, “commenting in strong terms upon the measures or acts of Government, or its agencies, so as to ameliorate the condition of the people or to secure the cancellation or alteration of those acts or measures by lawful means, that is to say, without exciting those feelings of enmity and disloyalty which imply excitement to public disorder or the use of violence”, is not sedition.


Mains Paper 3: Security | Challenges to internal security through communication networks

Prelims level: Section 124A

Mains level: Rising seditious events and the questioned applicability of the IPC provisions

Share article