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CRITICISING A GOVT OR ITS POLICIES ISN'T SEDITIOUS: SC

Our PIL on sedition was taken up by  the Supreme Court on September 5, 2016. It  passed an order stating that  in their considered opinion the authorities while dealing with the offences under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code shall be guided by the principles laid down by the Constitution Bench in Kedar Nath Singh vs. State of Bihar [1962 (Suppl.) 3 SCR 769].

As per the constitution bench judgment in Kedarnath, only those acts which involve incitement to violence or violence constitute a seditious act. In the various cases that have been filed in the recent years, the charges of sedition against the accused have failed to stand up to judicial scrutiny. The petitioners had therefore sought a strict compliance of this judgment in which the scope of sedition as a penal offence was laid down and it was held that the gist of the offence of sedition is “incitement to violence” or the “tendency or the intention to create public disorder”. Thus, those actions which do not involve violence or tendency to create public disorder, such as organization of debates/discussions, drawing of cartoons, criticism of the government etc do not constitute the offence of sedition.

In our petition, we had prayed for the issuance of an appropriate writ, order or direction making it compulsory for the concerned authority to produce a reasoned order from the Director General of Police (DGP) or the Commissioner of Police, as the case maybe, certifying that the “seditious act” either lead to the incitement of violence or had the tendency or the intention to create public disorder, before any FIR is field or any arrest is made on the charges of sedition against any individual. Similarly, there was a prayer for a review of all pending sedition cases and for criminal complaints for sedition made before a Judicial Magistrate with a view to curb the misuse and misapplication of sedition law.