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

By: Prabhat Singh

(This put up is the primary of a two-part collection on the subject – ‘A CASE IN SUPPORT OF RETAINING SECTION 124A’)


The Supreme Courtroom of India has mounted a date for conducting closing hearings within the issues difficult the constitutional validity of Part 124A of the Indian Penal Code (herein after known as “IPC”). The deliberations qua utility of getting Part 124A on the statute guide are as outdated because the provisions themselves. non-publica current assertion by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India –

The usage of sedition is like giving a noticed to the carpenter to chop a bit of wooden and he makes use of it to chop the complete forest itself” has as soon as once more catalyzed the talk.

There are two colleges of thought, particularly, the one which prays for annulment of the stated Part on the bottom that it has outlived its utility, and doesn’t move the muster of regulation given ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression,’ as assured within the Structure. Per contra, one other College argues that there isn’t any proper in an absolute sense, each proper is topic to sure affordable restrictions and freedom of speech isn’t any exception to it. The fulcrum of the matter lies in the truth that Part 124A which is ‘Sedition’ is at loggerheads with Article 19[1][a] of the Structure, which ensures freedom of speech and expression. Notablyin Kedar Nath Singh, a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Courtroom had declared Part 124A intraviral.


The Indian Penal Code, 1860 obtained enforced in 1860, however part 124A didn’t make it into the IPC till 1870 (though a bit similar to it was current in Thomas Macaulay’s Draft Penal Code in 1835). It was introduced in ten years after the IPC was launched[1]probably, to counter the surge Wahhabis rebellion within the subcontinent. At that time, it was a regulation towards “Thrilling Disaffection.” It’s, nonetheless, to be famous that part 124A has been modified considerably by way of an modification to Act 4 of 1898 to include judicial interpretations developed till then.

The Sedition as identified right now developed solely in the direction of the tip of the sixteenth century and the secondary or extra fashionable that means of the phrase ‘sedition’ started to the emerge-the notion of inciting by phrases or writings disaffection from that century forward.


By this modification, the phrase ‘sedition’ was launched for the very first time within the marginal heading, not within the content material of the provisions. This specific modification was the end result of varied judgments delivered from 1870 to 1898. This modification was twofold – firstother than thrilling disaffection ‘feeling of hatred or contempt’ was inserted and disaffection was made to incorporate ‘disloyalty’ as properly. secondthe only rationalization is break up into three explanations to outline the scope of permissible ‘disapprobation’ of a political/legislative measure.

Disapprobation was allowed, whether it is made to acquire alteration by lawful means in any of the measures of the federal government with out thrilling or attempting to excite disaffection, hatred, or contempt in the direction of the federal government of the day. Additional, if any remark was made expressing disapproval towards any administrative motion of the federal government with out thrilling or attempting to excite disaffection, hatred, or contempt that may not be penalized.[2] Thereafter, few amendments have been made, however none was to tinker with the character and scope of the provisions, therefore is of no relevance for the present functions.


On this part landmark circumstances of the pre-constitution period have been mentioned. There are a number of circumstances concerning Part 124A, however for the needs of present dialogue, the next circumstances could be sufficient to convey the supposed concept:

Queen Empress v. Jogendra Chander Bose[3]popularly generally known as the Bangobasi case was the primary case in India concerning Part 124A. The accused was charged with sedition for criticizing the Age of Consent Invoice and the destructive financial influence of British colonialism. Whereas directing the jury on the case, the Courtroom distinguished sedition as was understood beneath the Legislation of England at the moment, from part 124A IPC. It was noticed that the offense stipulated beneath Part 124A IPC was milder, as in England any overt act in consequence of a tragic feeling was penalized, nonetheless, in India solely these acts that have been achieved to withstand by power or an try to excite resistance by power’ fell beneath this part.

Queen-Empress v. Bal Gangadhar Tilak[4] – Mr. Justice Strachery held that to draw Part 124A, there isn’t any want for the dysfunction to consequence. It’s ample that you’ve got stated one thing towards the federal government of the day and due to this fact excited disaffection. The scope of part 124A obtained expanded by equating “disaffection” to “disloyalty.” The Courtroom interpreted the time period “emotions of disaffection” meant hatred, enmity, dislike, hostility, contempt, and each type of sick will in the direction of the federal government.

Niharendu Dutt Majumdar v. King Emperor[5]The interpretation given in Tilak’s case was the regulation till the choice of this case when Chief Justice Gwyer adopted a kind of liberal method, Justice said as follows – We have to learn sedition in its English backdrop. He additional stated that on the coronary heart of sedition in England is that this sort of factor should in the end lead not solely to disaffection from the federal government but in addition the ‘public dysfunction’. Provided that it additionally results in public dysfunction one particular person might be booked beneath the sedition.

The above interpretation given by the Federal Courtroom was overruled by the Privy Council in Sadashiva Narayan Bhalerao[6]. It was identified that the time period ‘sedition’ was not utilized in part 124A in any respect. It was solely the marginal notice which contained it and it’s properly settled in regulation {that a} marginal notice can not management the plain language of the part. The plain language of the part nowhere says ‘public order’ and ‘violence’. Subsequently they ‘disaffection towards the federal government of the day was adequate.


After the enactment of the Structure, Part 124A got here to problem many Excessive Courts. The Punjab Excessive Courtroom in Tara Singh Gopi Chand v. The State declared part 124A IPC unconstitutional because it contravenes the suitable of freedom of speech and expression assured beneath Article 19(1) (a) of the Structure. There have been numerous conflicting judgments among the many Excessive Courts.

The constitutional validity of part 124A IPC got here to be challenged within the case of Kedar Nath Singh v. the State of Bihar. The Structure Bench upheld the validity of part 124A and stored it on a special pedestal. The Courtroom drew a line between the phrases, ‘the Authorities established by regulation’ and ‘the individuals in the meanwhile engaged in carrying on the administration’. The court docket after contemplating a whole gamut of legal guidelines and judgments, in the end, stated if we learn a selected provision in a selected method because the Federal Courtroom learn it, particularly, as long as the disaffection to the federal government is accompanied by an tried intention to violence or to create public dysfunction, it might be attracted. On this judgment, the court docket acknowledges the suitable of self-preservation of ‘State’, by making a distinction between the Authorities and the State. So, by suggesting revocation we principally imply denying the suitable of self-preservation to the State or India.

The Kedar Nath case has restricted the scope and software of Part 124A solely to such act or try which has bearing on public order or sufficient to set off violence. Which means the requirement of proof to determine crime beneath Part 124A is greater. Evaluation of later circumstances exhibits that whereas following Kedar Nathcourts have been very specific in convicting the accused beneath Part 124A.

The scope of the unique provision in 1870 was restricted to penalizing solely ‘thrilling disaffection.’ The availability was given a special texture and coloration by the 1898 modification. The Supreme Courtroom has lastly mounted the contours of the provisions conserving given freedom of speech and expression beneath the Structure. Half – II shall analyze numerous 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 regulation undergraduate from Tamil Nadu Nationwide Legislation College, Trichy[2016-2021]. The writer could also be contacted through mail at [email protected])

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

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