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‘Punishment for mere tendency, rather than proof’

Updated on: 03 June,2023 08:39 AM IST  |  New Delhi
Agencies |

Law panel suggests not only keeping sedition law, but making it tougher by increasing min. jail term to 7 years

‘Punishment for mere tendency, rather than proof’

Lawyers shout slogans and carry an effigy on Feb 19, 2016, as they marched, pledging to attack anyone found to be ‘anti-national’, after some were accused of assaulting a student held for sedition. Pic/AFP

The Law Commission headed by former chief justice of Karnataka High Court Ritu Raj Awasthi has backed the penal provision for the offence of sedition, and suggested changes to make the punishment tougher. 

Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code dealing with sedition is at present under abeyance following directions of the Supreme Court issued in May, 2022. Amid allegations of misuse, there have been demands for the repeal of the provision.

Any allegation of misuse of the provision does not by implication warrant a call for its repeal, it said, adding that sedition being a “colonial legacy” is not a valid ground either. In its report, it proposed that Section 124A be amended to add a mention of tendency and increase the jail term from to seven years. “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 lndia, with a tendency to incite violence or cause public disorder shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, to which fine may be added, or with fine,” reads the suggested amendment. It explains tendency as, “The expression ‘tendency’ means mere inclination to incite violence or cause public disorder rather than proof of actual violence or imminent threat to violence.”

While Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said the recommendations were “persuasive and not binding” and an “informed and reasoned” decision would be taken after consultation with all stakeholders, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, “A message has been given ahead of the general election that we will use this in a one-sided manner particularly against Opposition leaders.”

3 yrs
Existing min. jail term under Sec. 124A

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