Law Commission advised retaining the sedition law, said- it is necessary to maintain it in view of the current situation

Sedition Law: Regarding the sedition law, the chairman of the Law Commission said that in view of the current situation in the country, it is very important to uphold this law. He said that many countries including America, Canada, Australia, and Germany have their own such laws. The Speaker said that there are specific laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the National Security Act but they do not cover the offense of sedition.

Jun 27, 2023 - 20:52
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Law Commission advised retaining the sedition law, said- it is necessary to maintain it in view of the current situation

Amid demands to repeal the law on sedition, Law Commission Chairman Justice Rituraj Awasthi made his stand. He said on Tuesday that due to the current situation from Kashmir to Kerala and from Punjab to the North-East, it has become very important to uphold the sedition law to protect the unity and integrity of the country. It has been suspended for the time being following the directions of the Supreme Court issued in May last year.
Defending the panel's recommendation to retain the law, Law Commission Chairman Justice Rituraj Awasthi said adequate safeguards have been proposed to prevent its misuse. He said that special laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the National Security Act apply in different areas but do not cover the offense of sedition, so there should be specific laws on sedition as well.
Justice Awasthi said that while considering the law on sedition, the panel found that the law on sedition is necessary to protect the unity and integrity of India, as is currently the case from Kashmir to Kerala and from Punjab to the North-East. He also said that the sedition law being a colonial legacy is not a valid ground to repeal it and several countries including the US, Canada, Australia, and Germany have their own such laws.
In its report submitted to the government last month, the 22nd Law Commission headed by Justice Awasthi favored retention of section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) with safeguards to prevent its misuse.
The recommendation sparked a political uproar, with several opposition parties alleging that it was being recommended to be retained to stifle dissent and voices against the ruling party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year. While the government said it would take a reasoned decision on the Law Commission's report after consulting all stakeholders. The Congress has alleged that the government wants to make the sedition law more stringent.
Referring to the procedural safeguards put in place by the commission, Awasthi pointed out that the preliminary inquiry would be conducted by a police officer of the rank of Inspector or above and the inquiry would be conducted within seven days of the occurrence of the incident. In case the competent government authority finds any concrete evidence regarding the offense of sedition, an FIR will be registered under section 124A.
"We have also recommended that the central government may issue guidelines that should be followed in case any such offense is committed," said the former Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court.
Justice Awasthi also said that the law panel has not made any recommendation to enhance the sentence. As per the existing provision of section 124A, the punishment is imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, with or without a fine, and may extend to imprisonment for life, with or without a fine. "We have talked about increasing the punishment from three years with or without fine to seven years with or without fine," he said.
He said that this would give discretion to the courts while awarding sentences. He said that if the courts feel that the offense of sedition has been proved and they feel that the sentence of three years is less but the sentence of imprisonment for life is too much, then in such a situation the accused can be punished with or without a fine. shall have the discretion to award a sentence of up to seven years."

Muskan Kumawat Journalist & Writer