Q) The Constituent Assembly did not agree to include sedition in the Constitution, yet even after so many years of independence, the colonial era law is being increasingly and freely used. In this context, critically examine the validity of sedition laws in India.

Why this Question?

Important part of GS Paper-II.

Key demand of the Question 

Discuss in detail about the sedition laws in India and the concerns related to it. 


Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment. 


Start by giving a background of sedition laws. 


Discuss the reasons for which sedition laws are being used.

Next discuss why the Constituent Assembly was against this law and why people have been demanding it to be scrapped.


Conclude with a balanced view of the topic.

Model Answer

Sedition is defined as any action that brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt towards the government of India and has been illegal in India since 1870. It forms a part of section 124 of the Indian Penal Code. The law on sedition is a hangover from India’s colonial past. It was drafted by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay and became a part of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in 1870. Sedition laws were enacted in 17th century England when lawmakers believed that only good opinions of the government should survive, as bad opinions were detrimental to the government and monarchy.

Relevance of the Law in modern times

  1. Sedition law helps the government to curb secessionist movement and other atrocity propaganda.
  2. It helps curb incidents of individuals trying to incite violence in the country and those trying to purposely defame the government and its activities.
  3. Even the fundamental rights come with certain restrictions that are needed to maintain public order and sedition is one of those laws.
  4. It is not really a draconian law as after several directions by the Supreme Court, its jurisdiction has been narrowed down. It can be applied only on grounds laid down by the court.

Why does the law need to be scrapped?

  1. Sedition law leads to a sort of unauthorised self-censorship, for it produces a chilling effect on free speech.
  2. It suppresses what every citizen ought to do in a democracy — raise questions, debate, disagree and challenge the government's decisions.
  3. Sedition systematically destroys the soul of Gandhi’s philosophy, that is, right to dissent.
  4. The country that introduced the law in India – UK —has repealed sedition as a crime over a decade ago for being a violation of the right to free speech.
  5. It highlights the tendency of the government or those in power to treat instances of dissent, especially those involving strident criticism of policies and laws in which particular regimes are deeply invested, as attempts to provoke disaffection and disloyalty.

In 1962, the Supreme Court in Kedar Nath Singh vs. State of Bihar upheld Section 124A and held that it struck a “correct balance” between fundamental rights and the need for public order. The guidelines of the SC must be incorporated in Section 124A as well by amendment to IPC so that any ambiguity must be removed. The ultimate responsibility lies on the legislature to ascertain the limits and boundaries within which this law should operate so as to prevent its encroachment on the fundamental rights of the citizens.