A CASE IN SUPPORT OF RETAINING SECTION 124A (Half-1) – The RMLNLU Laws Evaluation Weblog

By: Prabhat Singh

(This submit is the first of a two-part assortment on the topic – ‘A CASE IN SUPPORT OF RETAINING SECTION 124A’)


The Supreme Courtroom docket of India has fixed a date for conducting final hearings throughout the points tough the constitutional validity of Half 124A of the Indian Penal Code (herein after referred to as “IPC”). The deliberations qua utility of getting Half 124A on the statute information are as earlier as a result of the provisions themselves. privatea modern assertion by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India –

The utilization of sedition is like giving a seen to the carpenter to cut a little bit of picket and he makes use of it to cut the entire forest itself” has as quickly as as soon as extra catalyzed the controversy.

There are two schools of thought, notably, the one which prays for annulment of the talked about Half on the underside that it has outlived its utility, and would not go the muster of laws given ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression,’ as assured throughout the Construction. Per contra, one different School argues that there is no correct in an absolute sense, every correct is subject to certain low-cost restrictions and freedom of speech is not any exception to it. The fulcrum of the matter lies within the fact that Half 124A which is ‘Sedition’ is at loggerheads with Article 19[1][a] of the Construction, which ensures freedom of speech and expression. Notablyin Kedar Nath Singh, a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Courtroom docket had declared Half 124A intraviral.


The Indian Penal Code, 1860 purchased enforced in 1860, nevertheless half 124A did not make it into the IPC until 1870 (although a chunk much like it was present in Thomas Macaulay’s Draft Penal Code in 1835). It was launched in ten years after the IPC was launched[1]most likely, to counter the surge Wahhabis riot throughout the subcontinent. At the moment, it was a laws in opposition to “Thrilling Disaffection.” It is, nonetheless, to be well-known that half 124A has been modified significantly through an modification to Act 4 of 1898 to incorporate judicial interpretations developed until then.

The Sedition as recognized proper this second developed solely within the path of the tip of the sixteenth century and the secondary or further trendy which implies of the phrase ‘sedition’ began to the emerge-the notion of inciting by phrases or writings disaffection from that century ahead.


By this modification, the phrase ‘sedition’ was launched for the very first time throughout the marginal heading, not throughout the content material materials of the provisions. This particular modification was the fruits of varied judgments delivered from 1870 to 1898. This modification was twofold – firstaside from thrilling disaffection ‘feeling of hatred or contempt’ was inserted and disaffection was made to include ‘disloyalty’ as correctly. secondthe one clarification is break up into three explanations to stipulate the scope of permissible ‘disapprobation’ of a political/legislative measure.

Disapprobation was allowed, whether or not it’s made to amass alteration by lawful means in any of the measures of the federal authorities with out thrilling or attempting to excite disaffection, hatred, or contempt within the path of the federal authorities of the day. Further, if any comment was made expressing disapproval in opposition to any administrative movement of the federal authorities with out thrilling or attempting to excite disaffection, hatred, or contempt which may not be penalized.[2] Thereafter, few amendments have been made, nevertheless none was to tinker with the character and scope of the provisions, subsequently is of no relevance for the current features.


On this half landmark circumstances of the pre-constitution interval have been talked about. There are a selection of circumstances referring to Half 124A, nevertheless for the wants of current dialogue, the following circumstances may be adequate to convey the supposed idea:

Queen Empress v. Jogendra Chander Bose[3]popularly known as the Bangobasi case was the first case in India referring to Half 124A. The accused was charged with sedition for criticizing the Age of Consent Bill and the unfavourable monetary impression of British colonialism. Whereas directing the jury on the case, the Courtroom docket distinguished sedition as was understood beneath the Laws of England in the mean time, from half 124A IPC. It was seen that the offense stipulated beneath Half 124A IPC was milder, as in England any overt act in consequence of a tragic feeling was penalized, nonetheless, in India solely these acts which were accomplished to resist by energy or an attempt to excite resistance by energy’ fell beneath this half.

Queen-Empress v. Bal Gangadhar Tilak[4] – Mr. Justice Strachery held that to attract Half 124A, there is no need for the dysfunction to finish end result. It is ample that you have talked about one factor in opposition to the federal authorities of the day and as a result of this truth excited disaffection. The scope of half 124A purchased expanded by equating “disaffection” to “disloyalty.” The Courtroom docket interpreted the time interval “feelings of disaffection” meant hatred, enmity, dislike, hostility, contempt, and every kind of unwell will within the path of the federal authorities.

Niharendu Dutt Majumdar v. King Emperor[5]The interpretation given in Tilak’s case was the laws until the selection of this case when Chief Justice Gwyer adopted a type of liberal technique, Justice stated as follows – We have now to be taught sedition in its English backdrop. He extra talked about that on the coronary coronary heart of sedition in England is that any such issue ought to ultimately lead not solely to disaffection from the federal authorities however as well as the ‘public dysfunction’. Offered that it moreover ends in public dysfunction one particular person shall be booked beneath the sedition.

The above interpretation given by the Federal Courtroom docket was overruled by the Privy Council in Sadashiva Narayan Bhalerao[6]. It was recognized that the time interval ‘sedition’ was not utilized partly 124A the least bit. It was solely the marginal phrase which contained it and it is correctly settled in laws {{that a}} marginal phrase can’t administration the plain language of the half. The plain language of the half nowhere says ‘public order’ and ‘violence’. Subsequently they ‘disaffection in direction of the federal authorities of the day was okay.


After the enactment of the Construction, Half 124A obtained right here to drawback many Extreme Courts. The Punjab Extreme Courtroom docket in Tara Singh Gopi Chand v. The State declared half 124A IPC unconstitutional as a result of it contravenes the acceptable of freedom of speech and expression assured beneath Article 19(1) (a) of the Construction. There have been quite a few conflicting judgments among the many many Extreme Courts.

The constitutional validity of half 124A IPC obtained right here to be challenged throughout the case of Kedar Nath Singh v. the State of Bihar. The Construction Bench upheld the validity of half 124A and saved it on a particular pedestal. The Courtroom docket drew a line between the phrases, ‘the Authorities established by laws’ and ‘the people in the interim engaged in carrying on the administration’. The court docket docket after considering an entire gamut of authorized tips and judgments, ultimately, talked about if we be taught a particular provision in a particular means as a result of the Federal Courtroom docket be taught it, notably, so long as the disaffection to the federal authorities is accompanied by an tried intention to violence or to create public dysfunction, it might be attracted. On this judgment, the court docket docket acknowledges the acceptable of self-preservation of ‘State’, by making a distinction between the Authorities and the State. So, by suggesting revocation we primarily indicate denying the acceptable of self-preservation to the State or India.

The Kedar Nath case has restricted the scope and utility of Half 124A solely to such act or attempt which has bearing on public order or adequate to set off violence. Which implies the requirement of proof to find out crime beneath Half 124A is larger. Analysis of later circumstances displays that whereas following Kedar Nathcourts have been very particular in convicting the accused beneath Half 124A.

The scope of the distinctive provision in 1870 was restricted to penalizing solely ‘thrilling disaffection.’ The provision was given a particular texture and color by the 1898 modification. The Supreme Courtroom docket has lastly fixed the contours of the provisions holding given freedom of speech and expression beneath the Construction. Half – II shall analyze quite a few claims / arguments, made in favor of revocation of the provisions.

[1] The Indian Penal Code (Modification) Act, 1870 (Act 27 of 1870).

[2] Indian Penal Code (Modification) Act, 1898.

[3] AIR 1947 PC 82.

[4] (1897) ILR 22.

[5] AIR 19422 FC 22.

[6] AIR 1947 PC 82.

(Prabhat is a laws undergraduate from Tamil Nadu Nationwide Laws School, Trichy[2016-2021]. The creator is also contacted by means of mail at [email protected])

Cite as: Prabhat Singh, ‘A CASE IN SUPPORT OF RETAINING SECTION 124A(Half-1)’ (The RMLNLU Laws Evaluation Weblog24 July 2022) date of entry