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Krishna Kumar Singh, also known among friend circles KK and among close relative Krishna; Matriculation from Mithila High School Balour, Darbhanga in 1959, Graduated in Political Science Honours from C M College, Darbhanga, Bihar University in 1963; Joined post-graduate in Political Science the same year but dropped; joined Naxal movement under Charu Mazumdar, Kanu Sanyal, Satya Narayan Singh and Umadhar Singh in between but circumstances compelled to join literary work, clerk, proof readers etc in different publishing houses for livelihood; Finally joined journalism as career in different English newspapers and before my retirement from active journalism, I worked in The Times of India for about 19 years and retired as Chief Reporter  a few years back; continuing in journalism-reading more and more, writing more and more and praying to Almighty more and more-currently writing for different national English and Hindi dailies and magazines..

Sunday, 18 September 2016

SEDITION LAW IN INDIA : MISUSE BY SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS !

MUCH TALKED ABOUT use or misuse of sedition law is making headlines these days in India! IN fact sedition law and its incorporation in ( Indian Penal Code ) IPC Section-124-A was first enacted by British Parliament in 1860s for India especially when India was enslaved by Britishers. And successive India governments, after independence, have used and misused the law  for enlightened self-interest, mainly to stifle the voices of dissent !

Before I discuss in detail the sedition law, enacted by British Parliament and its fall-out in India, I want to mention that the first person to be convicted under Section-124A was a prominent Nationalist leader, Bal Gangadhar Tilak. His newspaper--Kesari-- had carried a report on Shivaji......Tilak was charged with sedition before Bombay High Court in Queen Empress vs Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1897). Tilak was imprisoned in Burma jail from where it became a boon for Tilak as he authored the famous book---Geeeta Rahashaya---, a critical appreciation of Bhagwad Geeta.


Since than much hue and cry was raised over sedition law. After the independence of India from foreign yoke, the framers of the Constitution decided to adopt the model of the Irish Constitution in specifically enumerating exceptions to the right to free speech. In early draft of the Constitution that were circulated within the Constituent Assembly(CA) 'sedition' was set out as one such exception to the right of free speech. During debate on the floor of the CA, a champion of the 'free speech" K M Munshi moved an 'amendment' to remove the word 'sedition; from the exceptions. Abhinava Chandrachud, in an essay in The Frontline, has written, although the historian Granville considered Munshi to be one of the 'strongest advocates' on the 'limitation of rights', Munshi by contrast, mounted one of the greatest defence of the right of free speech. He argued  in the CA that the view taken by the Federal Court ion Majumdar's case was the correct one. It was partly because of his 'efforts' that  'sedition' was finally deleted as an exception to the right to free speech in what would become Article 19(2) of the Constitution. 


"....Shortly after the Constitution came into being, in November 1950, The Punjab High Court held Section 124-A to be unconstitutinal. However , thereafter the first amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1951 and the words 'public order' were inserted as an exception to the right to free speech. Soon , in Kedar Nath vs state of Bihar (AIR 1962 SC 955) the Supreme Court held that Section 124-A was vakid restriction on the fundamental rights to free speech.Even so, the court accepted the view adopted by Chief Justice Gawyer in Majumdar's case. Kedar Nath was a communist, who had made a fiery speech in Bihar in which he said, among other things: We believe in that revolution....which will come and in the flames of which the capitalists, zamindars and the Congress leaders of India, who have made it profession  to loot the country, will be reduced to ashes."

The SC  had held that Section 124-A was aimed at 'rendering penal only such activities as would be intended, or have a tendency, to create disorder or disturbances of public peace by resort to violence.' Merely arousing 'bad feelings or feelings of enmity or hatred towards government would not be considered sedition.

Chandrachud has further written, "In 1941, the Federal Court in India attempted to bring the Indian law of sedition in the lines with Enlgish counterparts. A case was brought befire it by Niharendu Dutta Mazumdar, a member of the Bengal legislature, who had, in the words of the Federal Court, made a 'violent' forthy and irresponsible' speech criticizing the Governor and Ministry of Bengal for their inaction during the Dacca riots. Chief Justice Maurice Gwyer sdopted the post -1832 English law of sedition libel in order to interpreet Section 124-A of the IPC.'The act or words complained of must either incite to disorder or must be such as to satisfy reasonable men that their intention or tendency.' Mazumdar was, however, let off as the court did nit consider his speech 'as inciting those who heard it...to attempt by violence or by public disorder to subvert the government.'"

The court had considered the intention and tendency of speech for framing anybody under sedition law.  Under the present circumstances of imposing sedition law in indiscriminately in India Chandrachud has aptly written, " policemen who investigate complaints of sedition must therefore ask themselves a simple question: Does the speech which has been called into question merely express hatred, contempt or illwill against the government, or does it incite others to commit acts of insurrection, rebellion or public disorder? It is only when a speech falls in the latter category that it can be considered as constituting the offence of sedition. Merely raising anti-India slogans, reprehensible though this may be, would by itself be insufficient to sustain a conviction under Section-124A. A public interest petition has been filed in the Supreme Court by non-governmental organisation--Common Cause--, seeking, among other things that before any FIR is filed or arrest made by the police under Section 124-A, the Commissioner of Police or Director General of Police must certify that the test in Kedarnath has been satisfied."

Before 1832 the English law of sedition had provision that a person could be convicted for sedition for saying anything that brought the government into 'hatred or contempt' or even for merely raising 'discontent or disaffection' against the government. Later it was changed to some extend. The original draft of the IPC was drawn up in 1837 by the Indian Law Commission headed by T B Macaulay.Section 113 of this draft made it an offence to 'excite feelings of disaffection against the government................But it was not included in final draft version of the draft of the IPC in 1860.......they considered British India a  was a laboratory where they could test how a code would function.......Finally an amendment was introduced in British Parliament in 1870 and Section 113 of Macaulay's draft was inserted into code as Section 124-A. It appears that British government though t of revolution in India for independence and thus 'treacherous section was inserted to curb the freedom of speech in India that time.

Moreover, it has become a fact that India is yet to keep herself for from colonial rule and the pre-1832 English law of seditious libels now become the law of sedition in India. And Narendra Modi government is abusing the provisions to stifle people's voice

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