Thursday, 27 September 2012

Sec. 124A of Indian Penal Code: Sedition

Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code deals with Sedition.

Sedition is defined as:

Bringing hatred of contempt (or attempt to bring hatred or contempt) for the lawful Government in India, through words, signs, visual representation or otherwise.
Such person can be punished with a imprisonment for life and/or fines. The offence of sedition is non-bailable and cognizable.


1.- The expression" disaffection" includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. 
2.- Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means, but without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section
3.- Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.1

  • disapprobation: expressing strong disapproval, expecially on moral grounds.  
  • cognizable offence is a criminal offence in which thepolice is empowered to register an FIR, investigate, and arrest an accused without a court issued warrant.[1]
  • non-cognizable offence is an offence in which police can neither register an FIR, investigate, nor effect arrest without the express permission or directions from the court. 

Recent Instances of use:

  • Mr. Aseem Trivedi- cartoonist with India Against Corruption. Charged with sedition which led to widespread condemnation of the police and government. Subsequently the charges were removed. 2012
  • Dr. Binayak Sen, a health and human rights activist, was sentenced to a life-term under this law for 'waging war against the state'.  Served 2010.
  • Arundhati Roy was sought to be charged with sedition for advocating independence for the disputed Kashmir region. 2010.

This is the same clause using which the British sent two famous patriotic Indians - Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi – to prison. 
Mahatma Gandhi said during the famous Ahmedabad trial in 1922: Section 124 A under which I am happily charged is perhaps the prince among the   political sections of the IPC designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen. Affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by the law. He also asserted that What in law is a deliberate crime appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen,” and finally, to preach disaffection towards the existing system of Government has become almost a passion with me.” 
This is the same clause about which Jawaharlal Nehru said:  “…so far as I am concerned that particular Section is highly objectionable and obnoxious and it should have no place both for practical and historical reasons, if you like, in any body of laws that we might pass.The sooner we get rid of it the better. 
The Ahmedabad Trial of 1922 of Gandhi concerned, the writing of two articles in his paper 'Young India'. The prosecution alleged that he had incited violence in the articles, and was responsible for the violence that occurred in Chauri Chaura (Feb 1922) and at the visit of Prince of Wales to India in 1921. 


  1. kedar nath case 1962 imp in this regard.

  2. he constitutionality of Section 124A was challenged in the Supreme Court on the ground that it violated the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Our Supreme Court in its landmark judgment in Kedar Nath’s case in 1962 dissented from the Privy Council judgments which had construed sedition to include any statement that was liable to cause ‘disaffection’, namely, exciting in others certain inimical feelings towards the government, even though there was no element of incitement to violence or rebellion. The Supreme Court limited the application of the section to acts or expressions which have the tendency to create disorder or incitement to violence, and on that premise upheld its constitutionality

  3. kedar nath case 1962 imp in this regard.

  4. Thanks Ashish.