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“Offences against the State”- Section 124 A & Chapter-VI of IPC

Important provisions in Chapter VI Of IPC

  • Section 121: waging, or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against the Government of India
  • Section 122: collecting arms, etc. with intention of waging war against the Government of India
  • Section 123: concealing with intention to facilitate design to wage war
  • Section 124: assaulting the President, Governor, etc. with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power
  • Sections 128-130: facilitating escape of prisoners of State or war
  • Section 124 A : Sedition- Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to 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 extent to 3 years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

SECTION-124 A & SC

  1. Kedar Nath’s case

Section 124A is the only section in this chapter whose primary focus is on speech.

It is keeping this aspect in mind that the Supreme Court “read down” this provision in 1962 in Kedar Nath’s case to read it in a manner consistent with the provisions of the Constitution which guarantee freedom of speech. That freedom is subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2). But those restrictions can only be in the interests of

  • Sovereignty and the integrity of India,
  • Security of the State,
  • Friendly relations with foreign States,
  • Public order,
  • Decency or morality or
  • In relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence

Since sedition was not a ground on which freedom of speech could be restricted, the offence of sedition itself had been revisited in the light of the permissible restrictions under Article 19(2).

And so, in Kedar Nath’s case, SC concluded that mere speech would not be sedition if Section 124A was to be sustained. There has to be an element of incitement to violence.

  1. Balwant Singh’s case

Similarly, in Balwant Singh’s case, SC found that the raising of pro-Khalistan slogans without overt acts would not constitute sedition.

So, to conclude, we can say that SC has itself made the misuse of Section-124 A very difficult.

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