SC to determine the constitutional validity of Sec 124A of IPC

Two journalists, Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha from Manipur and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla from Chhattisgarh in the pleas to the Supreme Court challenged S.124A of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) which deals with Sedition to be violative of the fundamental right of speech and expression. Both journalists have been charged under S.124-A of IPC for comments and cartoons shared by them on the social networking website Facebook.

The Supreme Court has now agreed to examine and decide the validity of S.124A and a bench of Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph issued notice to the Central government for the same.

What is Section 124-A of IPC exactly?

This section criminalizes the acts of Sedition. Sedition essentially means trying to incite violence and discontent against the country or the government. However, S.124-A also clearly states in its explanations that this crime does not include the comments/writings based on expressing disapprobation of the meas­ures of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means which does not incite hate or violence. 

On what basis is the constitutionality challenged?

According to the plea, S.124-A of IPC is said to be violating Article 19 of the constitution of India which guarantees the freedom of speech and expression to the people. However, in various cases previously, S.124-A of IPC has been held as an acceptable exception to Art.19 of the Constitution. In Kedra Nath, the Supreme Court had held that Section 124A is constitutional since it imposed a reasonable restriction on Article 19(1)(a), falling within the ambit of Article 19(2).

These pleas also state that during the origin of S.124-A of IPC, it was essential since the situations and circumstances demanded such a strong and difficult law. Howereve now, India is legally and politically stable and such a law is rendered unnecessary. The further proceedings and decisions on this are awaited by the public.

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