Do laws like Sedition undermine credibility of the World’s largest Democracy?

The British used a Colonial Law called “Sedition” to silence Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Were they anti-national?

If questioning the government can land you in prison or charge you with a hearty fine then what is the difference between a democracy and autocracy?

You need to understand that Sedition (Rajdroh) should not be confused with Treason (Deshdroh). There is a clear distinction between the two and must not be used interchangeably.

Sedition as defined in the Indian Penal Code – “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 imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which a fine may be added; or, with fine.”

Treason as defined in the Indian Penal Code – is the crime of betraying a nation or a sovereign by acts considered dangerous to its security. Treason and treasonable activities include waging war against the Government, assaulting the head of the state, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power.

The broad definition of treason as described under the Indian Penal Code depends on the crime committed under different acts mentioned in the Code. This includes :-

  • Chapters 5,6 and 7 of the Indian Penal Code
  • The Foregin Recruiting Act, 1874.
  • The Official Secrets Act, 1923.
  • The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1938.
  • The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1961.
  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

If you are not convinced with the separate definition of the two laws as defined in the Indian Penal Code under the ambit of which it is being used to serve different motives than answer one simple question – should a child be punished for questioning his teacher (sedition) or should he be punished for misbehaving with the teacher(treason)?

Mahatma Gandhi described Sedition as the “prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.”

A law enacted by the British in 1870 to suppress nationalist voices does not hold its relevance today. If you think it does then there is no difference between A Dictator and A Democratically elected leaders of any political party.

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