A petition was lodged before the Supreme Court asking it, according to Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, to make the provision against Sedition ultra-virtuous to the Constitution of India. The plea alleges that a colonial rule, such as Section 124A, meant to subjugate the subjects of the British crown, should not be allowed to proceed in a democratic republic, within the continually widening reach of fundamental rights.
The petitioners, Advocates Aditya Ranjan, Varun Thakur, and V. Elenchezhiyan, lodged a complaint claiming that the enhanced chilling impact of the systematic abuse of Section 124-A of the IPC on liberal democracy and fundamental rights and Article 19(1)(a) and Article 21 have been exacerbated. The indiscriminate and unconstitutional use of the Sedition law against journalists, women, children, students, and other individuals, in plain violation of the understanding given by the Apex Court of India, is also aggrieved.
The plea claimed that while democratic values have changed, IPC section 124-A, which is a remnant of the colonial period, continues to stifle India’s freedom of speech and expression and endanger the lives and liberties of Indian people if they want to express dissatisfaction with the government policies in power.
According to the petition, without sufficient protections such as section 124-A in the penal code, the continuity of a draconian colonial provision like It is unfair and unwarranted to be given under the UAPA. Unlike UAPA, the statute does not lay down administrative blame on the police in the event of abuse in its misuse and no legal protections are required under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Section 124-A thus must be tested based on changed facts and conditions, as well as based on continuously evolving tests of need, proportionality, and arbitrariness.
The petition quoted the observations of the Supreme Court in the case of Balwant Singh v. State of Punj ab (1995), where the Court had merely explained that Shouting slogans, “Khalistan Zindabad” in this situation, does not amount to sedition.
In the case of Common Cause v. Union of India, (2016), the Supreme Court ordered that: “We are of the view that the authorities are guided by the principles laid down by the Constitution Bench in Kedar Nath 1860 when dealing with offences under Section 124-A of the Penal Code, 1860.” Nath Singh v. The Bihar State
Citing the order of the Supreme Court in the case of Shreya Singhal Vs. UOI (2015) where it holds that a speech should be treated in a free, equal, and liberal spirit, the petition notes that a portion of the speech or expression is chosen by the police across the country to invoke section 124-A against the people, without investigating the proximate and clear relation of the act.
Simply slapping the accusation of sedition against a person endangers the right of the man and his family members to live with dignity forever. The Media portrays the individual charged as “Deshdrohi” while the government is charged with seditious activities and it can convert into “Rajdroh” (anti-government) in Hindi, which is not the same as “Deshdroh” It produces a chilling impact on other people and prohibits them from using legal means to exercise their constitutional right to criticize the government and its policies- reads the plea.
The right to challenge, oppose and alter elected officials and the government from time to time without rebounding, according to the petitioners, the principle of democracy is very fundamental when it comes to violence. However, under section 124-A of the IPC, the Sedition Act is a persistent challenge to the constitutional rights of millions of people, including petitioners.
Alternatively, the petition sought instructions from the Government to advise its respective Heads of Police and D.G. Ps to ensure that, despite the following observations, the rule set out by the Supreme Court in the case of Kedar Nath and Balwant Singh is strictly followed:
- Written or spoken phrases, etc., which implied in them the concept of violently subverting government alone, were penalized by section 124A IPC.
- The police should be more sensitive and refrain from arresting people only for raising stray slogans without causing some unfavorable law and order conditions.
- Without something else, raising such slogans cannot pose any danger to the Government of India as defined by law, nor can it give rise to feelings of enmity or hostility within different communities or religious or other groups.
- In an open, equal, and liberal spirit, every expression should be viewed.