The Sedition Law in India: Historical Significance, Post-Independence Era, and the Need for Prudent Application

Sedition Law in India | 214A IPC

In an interview with ANI, Justice Rituraj Awasthi, chairman of the 22nd Law Commission, stated that sedition law is a necessity of the hour, and they have examined its application, which is critical given the country’s current state.

He also added that “From Kashmir to Kerala and from Punjab to the North East, if you see the situation, you’ll see it’s required for the integrity of the country.

In its recent report, the Law Commission submitted that Section 124A of the IPC dealing with Sedition needs to be retained in the Indian Penal Code through certain amendments so as to bring about greater clarity regarding the usage of the provision.

The Commission also analysed the history of sedition, both in colonial and independent India, the law on sedition in various jurisdictions, and the various pronouncements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the High Courts on the subject matter.

India’s sedition law, Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, is absurdly broad, making it a criminal offence to “bring, or attempt to bring, into hatred or contempt, or excite disaffection towards, the Government.” “Disaffection” is defined to include “disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.” The maximum punishment is life in prison.


The law of sedition is defined under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). In India, the sedition law was introduced in 1870, but since the law was introduced, the first known trial was probably conducted after twenty-one years in the case of Queen Empress vs. Jogendra Chandra Bose, also known as The Bangobasi case (1891).

One of the most well-known cases is the three sedition trials of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, as he became the first political personality to be persecuted under the sedition clause for his writing and speeches.

The British Government’s main purpose in implementing the sedition law was to impose sanctions on the freedom fighters and activists who were revolting against the Monarch through their publications or mass gatherings.


During the post-independence era, the Supreme Court has given many landmark judgements related to cases of sedition, firstly in the case of Kedarnath Singh VS. State Of Bihar (1962), where the Supreme Court held that “a citizen has a right to say or whatever he likes about the government or its measures by way of criticism or comment so long as he does not incite people to violence”.

Secondly, in the case of P. Alavi VS. State of Kerala (1982), the court held that sloganeering or criticising Parliament or the judicial system did not amount to sedition.

Thirdly, in the case of Balwant Singh and Anr. VS. State Of Punjab (1995), the Supreme Court said that “raising slogans (Khalistan Zindabad) a couple of times, which neither evoked any response nor any reaction from the public, cannot attract such punishments”.


The Law of Sedition cannot be unnecessarily used against a person just because their ideology doesn’t match that of any political party. According to Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, every Indian citizen has the right to free speech and expression. However, there are reasonable restrictions too, which are mentioned under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

Looking at the current situation where the majority of citizens across all age groups use various social media applications and sites, sometimes people do share certain images/videos or comment on something that may create disturbance in society.

There have been many events in recent times where social media platforms have been used as a key element to incite violence.

There are many incidents where people, during mass gatherings, pass a comment or state something that may influence the crowd to commit an illegal or offensive act. The prime example is Umar Khalid, a self-styled activist who was arrested for making “provocative statements” when then-US President Donald Trump was on a visit to India. He was also accused of being one of the “masterminds” behind the violence that killed more than 50 people and injured hundreds more.

India, “the mother of democracy” and one of the biggest democracies, may definitely require the law of sedition as our country has faced and still faces many communal and political violence. But all the investigations should be done on a fair trial basis and without any political interference.

Choose A Format
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
Youtube and Vimeo Embeds
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge