Sedition law is given under section 124A of the IPC. The section defines sedition and makes every speech or expression that brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt towards the government established by law. It is a cognisable offence.
It was enacted during colonial times and Maculay brought this act. Similarly freedom of speech is guaranteed as Fundamental right under article 19 of the constitution.
It is often under debate because Centre and the States have invoked the section against activists, detractors, writers and cartoonists seeking to silence political dissent by accusing dissenters of promoting disaffection.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 35 cases of sedition were reported in 2016. Many of these cases did not involve violence or incitement to violence.
The sedition law came into focus in 2016 after the JNU row in which three students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University were arrested for allegedly raising anti-national slogans. Critics of sedition law have even demanding to scrap of the law by calling it a “draconian law”.
It is argued that along with colonial laws like criminal defamation, laws on obscenity and blasphemy, the sedition law also runs against the idea of Freedom of Expression, guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution.
Misused by the government: There is an apprehension that this Section might be misused by government of the day to suppress political dissent, constructive criticism of government and its policies thereby stifling democratic governance.
Sedition law should be used in rare cases and the critical appraisal of the government shall not be silenced by invoking the provisions of the act at the same time the sedition has to be objectively defined. Freedom of speech has to be accorded priority as it keeps the government of the day accountable and also it prevents the government turning into majority government.