Sedition: what it really means and how many are guilty

For the first time in 67 years, after the Narendra Modi government came to power, the National Crime Records Bureau added 'sedition' as a head under which data on crime were collected. Section 124-A in the Indian Penal Code says, "Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India shall be punished with life imprisonment."

According to this explanation, "expression of disaffection" includes disloyalty and all feelings of hate. It also says comments that express strong disapproval of "the measures of the government, with a view to obtain their desired modifications by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offense under this section."

According to the section, comments expressing strong disapproval of the "administrative or other action of the government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offense under this section." The law, originally drafted by Thomas Macaulay, was not part of the IPC in the 1860s. It was introduced in 1870. Many Indian freedom fighters, including Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, were charged with sedition during the struggle for independence.


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