India to Review British-Era Sedition Law Amid Uproar Over Its 'Misuse' to Suppress Free Speech

Supreme Court of India - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.05.2022
The British included the sedition law in the Indian Penal Code in 1870, purportedly to suppress voices and writings of Indians demanding freedom from British rule. The Indian government widely used the law against citizens even after its independence in 1947.
India's Narendra Modi government has decided to re-examine and reconsider Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises sedition.
Considering the concerns expressed by civil society and human right activists, the government said it will re-examine and reconsider the provisions related to sedition charges while protecting the sovereignty and integrity of the country.
Under the law, if a person "brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government" by their act, they will be charged under Section 124 (sedition) of IPC.
The law has recently attracted significant criticism from civil society.
The Supreme Court is hearing a number of petitions challenging the constitutionality of the colonial provision. The court asked the government if the law is needed 75 years after independence.
The law, framed by the British government in 1870, has a provision to sentence a culprit to jail ranging from three years to life, along with a monetary fine. The person charged under the law is barred from holding a government job and their passport is seized.
As per the Indian Home Ministry, 399 people were slapped with charges of sedition between 2014 and 2020 across the country, which includes cartoonists, activists, and students.
Civil society accuses the government of misusing the law to suppress criticism and has held dozens of protests across the country in the past few years.
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