By M.C. Linthoingambee
Sedition denoting an act done to disregard or an attempt to cause hatred and contempt against the Government by means of visible representation, words, speech, etc by a seditionist. It is defined under section 124A of the Code and whoever that procures the same act will be served with a punishment of 5 years or fine or both with the 5 years punishment term that is given being flexibly extendable to 3 years depending on the variation of the crime. Of late, a recent case in India was the arrest of two girls in Mumbai: One for posting a status on Facebook in wake of developments after the death of the Shiv Sena Chief and another girl, for liking that particular status on the social network site. The hidden contents of section 66A of the Information Technology Act have also helped served the cause of Sedition in a digital make-over age. Both of the above sections have been rebelled over by many citizens stating that they are unconstitutional as they restrict the Freedom of Speech and Expression clause pre defined under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution.
“An unreasonable restriction”, an article that appeared in The Hindu by Aparna Vishwanathan on 20 February, 2013 signifies some of the important brief totaling to Seditious matters. We also witnessed a massive uproar with the arrest of the cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on 10 charges of sedition over a series of political cartoons against corruption depicted as derogatory to the National Emblem and the Constitution of India. When there is an outlaw, it is right to punish a person of a wrong but when there is none, availing a defense is more righteous. The followed principles of the colonial era terming the Principle of Natural Justice should be better upheld in view of professing the ideology of bringing about Public Order. That’s more like heaving a response to the ever changing rules of the ever growing debate of who is right.
We are born, we are raised, we learn to talk and the first words that often come out of us are “Mama” or “Dada” and then we go to string words and sentences and finally when our minds mature, we learn to speak our mind. Being able to do so is called the real freedom of speech and expression. That’s what I strive for. But in the long run, upholding and safeguarding public integrity is one of the foremost goals while administering a government. This is why we must provide for reasonable restriction in assuring that the contents of all these freedoms do not contain matters that goes over decency, public morality, peace and others. It is then that we learn to co-exist. In a heavily populated country like ours wherein we house a number of different ethnicity struggling each day to benefit and develop from each other, it is a common dream that we may view under a common goal from the outside. Conflict arises everywhere even at a place with a family of 3 but knowingly at the end of the day, we learn to accept the flaws and try to make those relationships work. This is us.
Many view sedition as going against the spirit of democracy but where it truly lies is a decision which can only be made by us as citizens. Perhaps it is time to call upon the litigators or upholders of law to call for correction in the once professed statements, matters, acts of law that still appears as passed off in the colonial era. The commonly overtaken remedy is the filing of the precluding onset of Public Interest Litigations (PIL) in controlling the wrongful arrest and exercise of controlling its citizens by viewing a mere action of a friendly depiction into a civil or criminal wrong. We may find a consistency with the Constitution in the wake of circumstantial changes if we conclude to uphold the harmony of this clause and welcome some adjustments to better view the prospectus of Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
As we look into a confederation of a malicious intent of a seditionist, there must be a fine line of balance existing to view the question of fact or the question of law. It is only than that the jurists of modern times may predict a cure and pass judgment stating the very reason of the paradigm shift in the existing clause of Sedition currently entailed in Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, a substantial law which determines our rights and punishments for a particular action.
Sedition is an ongoing frontier, it is for the legislators and the parliament to determine whether if it should be scrapped or wrapped from the current code. Human Rights Organizations does what they feel is right and go on to support some of these seditionist. Perhaps they are true in predicting a judgment. But it is only your final stand to determine what is best!
(M.C. Linthoingambee is an undergraduate pursuing B.Com. LL.B(H). An avid blogger, poet, a seasonal artist and a foodie, she is also a life member to the Indian Society of the Red Cross.)