Very recently a report, numbered 279 was published by the 22nd law commission. This law commission was formed after a gap of four years in the year of 2020, which has been headed by retired justice Rituraj Awashthi since november 2022. Earlier, he was the chief justice of karnataka high court and had upheld the ban of hijab by the government. The home ministry had referred the issue of constitutional validity of section 124A of IPC, to the law commission. Subsequently, this report was published by the commission. The issue attracted attention after the constitutionality of section 124A was challenged before the apex court of India. The supreme court had passed an order and directed central and all the state government to not to take any FIR and to hold ongoing inquiries in all the cases related to this section till the constitutionality of this section is in question.
Section 124A of IPC is as: “Sedition.—Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, 102 [***] the Government established by law in 103 [India], [***] shall be punished with 104 [imprisonment for life], to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine. Explanation 1.—The expression “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. Explanation 2.—Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offense under this section. Explanation 3.—Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offense under this section.”
Many times Sedition law becomes the topic of debate and discussion because it was created by the colonial british government to safeguard its interest and many times it was used against our nation’s freedom fighters. It has also been alleged that due to its vagueness it has been misused by those who are in power and it can be misused by the ruling government against political rivals, or those who criticize the government.
Law commission reported that, merely because it has a colonial past, it does not make a case for strucking it down. And to address the issues which may arise due to vagueness of the section, certain recommendations were made by the commission. Such as, preliminary investigation and permission from the government before lodging of FIR; amendment in the section itself inspired by the Kedarnath judgment of the supreme court, which clarify that the offense is only committed when there is tendency of disruption in public order, violence, destabilizing the state and elected government. Only then, it will make a case for sedition. Change in punishment also has been recommended, and instead of three years, seven years are recommended.