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Q. Criticism and sedition: Comment on Supreme Court’s view on criticism vis-a-vis sedition.
Jul 21, 2017 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

Earlier, the Supreme Court of India in its judgement held that, a violent revolution against government attracts the charge of sedition, where as someone’s statement criticising government does not invoke an offence of sedition or defamation. The apex court quoted same statement that it was held in Kedar Nath Singh case in 1962.

Supreme Courts observation-

  • +Court held that sedition law was applicable when there is violence or incitement to violence in the alleged act of sedition.
  • Courts said that 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 or with the intention of creating public disorder.
  • Finally court ruled that mere criticism of the government is not an offence under the sedition law, or even the defamation law.

 Analysis-

  • Criminal defamation is likewise abused to muzzle offending views in arbitrary ways. Both sedition and criminal defamation are basically colonial era gags that are a misfit in modern India.
  • The hallmark of a thriving democracy like India is not only to raise important and fundamental questions, but also to objectively question stereotypes and prejudices. 
  • While people in power tend to misuse the law to gag any discontent against them, lower courts in India have only compounded the problem by failing to apply the time and tested parameters of the 1962 judgement.
  • Once again apex court has reiterated that expressing disapproval of government actions, without inciting public disorder by acts of violence does not amount to sedition or defamation.

Conclusion-

We have witnessed various cases of gross abuse of sedition law to stifle dissent and critical voices. In this background apex court judgement is most needed to contain such gross abuses. Being citizen of democratic nation, every individual has right to criticise the government without being violence, and such actions should not constitute sedition. Now governments and lower courts should apply this as well as 1962 judgement while applying the provisions of sedition.   


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