Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 23 September 2023 2.56 AM IST

Sedition law should be retained, increase punishment: Law Commission in report to Centre


NEW DELHI: In its report to the Central Government, the 22nd Law Commission has recommended that the offense of sedition (IPC 124A) frozen by the Supreme Court should be retained and the law should be amended to prevent misuse. "The crime of sedition must be maintained to protect the unity and integrity of the nation. The fact that it is a colonial law and its misuse are not sufficient grounds for repealing the law.", the report states.

“Section 124A needs to be retained in the Indian Penal Code, though certain amendments, as suggested, may be introduced in it by incorporating the ratio decidendi of Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar so as to bring about greater clarity regarding the usage of the provision,” the Law Commission’s report said.

In May 2022, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre and the states not to register FIRs under Section 124 A. Ongoing investigations were also frozen. The action is on petitions that the law is being used to suppress dissent against the government. The Centre had informed the Supreme Court that amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Penal Code are under consideration in relation to sedition.

The Union Home Ministry had asked the commission headed by former Karnataka Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and comprising Justice KT Shankaran, Professor Dr Anand Paliwal and Professor DP Verma to study the application of Section 124A and suggest amendments. The report is pending before the Supreme Court after the summer vacation.

"Law must be retained to prevent attempts by anti-national and separatist forces to oust the elected government through violence and illegal means. UAPA and the National Security Act are not substitutes. All offenses under 124A are not covered by these rules. Without 124A, acts of vandalism would have to be dealt with under the Anti-Terrorism Act.", the Commission said.

Increase punishment

An officer not below the rank of Inspector should conduct the preliminary investigation. An FIR for sedition can be registered only with the permission of the Central or State Government based on that report.

Criminal law should be amended to ensure the safety of the accused. The current punishment for sedition is a minimum of three years in prison and a fine and a maximum of life imprisonment and a fine. The minimum sentence should be seven years imprisonment and fine.

124A should be amended to ensure rigorous imprisonment for life for those who incite violence and create disturbance in society.

The Law Commission says that the fact that some countries have abandoned the sedition act is not in keeping with Indian realities. "The framework of the Indian legal system is a colonial relic. Same with Indian Civil Service and Police Force. None of them are obsolete because they are colonial.", Commission said in its report

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