Offenses against State (Chapter-6 Of the Indian Penal Code,1860) can be divided into four aspects-
- Waging war Against the Government
- Assault on High Officials.
- Escape of a State Prisoners
The first three provisions are largely redundant, but Section- 124A is in limelight these days. Section 124A was placed in the statute book in the year 1870.
Section- 124A – 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 the Government established by law in [India], shall be punished with [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.]
Essential Ingredients of Section 124A IPC-
- Words signs visible representation or otherwise- The terms ‘words’ and signs’ present no difficulty in understanding. The next term used is visible representation. These terms are not defined. It literally means any form of communication that is visible to the eye. It includes pictures or dramatic performances in a meme show where no words are spoken.
- Brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt— It is not the actual causing of hatred or contempt to do so, it is sufficient if he even attempts at causing hatred or contempt.
- Excite Disaffection- Explanation-2 to section 124A IPC states that ‘disaffection’ includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.
The federal court of India in Nibarender Dutt Majumdar v. King Emperor, AIR 1942 struck a different note. SIR MAURICE GWYER CJ held that the GIST of the offense sedition is incitement to violence, mere abusive words are not enough.
The Supreme Court of India in Kedar Nath’s case, however, opined that the interpretation given by the federal court is what would be in harmony with Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
Why Section 124A IPC, 1860 is in Limelight and Constitutional Validity
In Tara Singh Gopichand v. State, AIR, 1951, for the first time the constitutional validity of section 124A was challenged. It was contended that this section of the Indian Penal Code is in violation of Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution of India which guarantees the freedom of speech and expression. The East Punjab High Court declared the section ultra vires to the Constitution.
Subsequently, the Constitution first amendment act 1951 added two words under Article 19(2). –
- ‘in the interest of the security of the state’ and
- ‘public order’.
Dealing with the restrictions that can be put through law on the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a).
In a Landmark Judgement of KEDAR NATH v. STATE OF BIHAR, the constitutional bench of the supreme court held that any law which is enacted ‘ in the interest of public order’ can be saved from the vide of Constitutional invalidity.
On Tuesday, 10 May 2022 the Supreme court asked the Central Government why it cannot issue a direction to the State Governments to not register FIRs under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code till the re-examination process is over.
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(MARCH – APRIL 2022)