Here’s what Sec 124A is: Law Commission

The recent arrests of 5 human rights activists in connection with Bhima-Koregaon violence has caused nation wide uproar with many people coming in support of the arrested activists, which the public and eye witness claim is misuse of power to silence the voice of dissent by Maharashtra Police.

The Law Commission of India is responsible to for legal reforms in India comprising of researchers and legal experts , falling under the Ministry of Law.

Giving an insight on section 124A of the Indian Penal Code which deals with ‘Sedition’, the law commission of India observed that: “If the country is not open to positive criticism, there lies little difference between the pre and post-Independence eras. Right to criticise one’s own history and the right to offend are rights protected under free speech.”

The law commission was asked to consider section 124A of IPC were the commission observed that “In a democracy, singing from the same songbook is not a benchmark of patriotism,” and the following below points.

• “Section 124A should be invoked only in cases where the intention behind any act is to disrupt public order or to overthrow the Government with violence and illegal means.”

• “Dissent and criticism are essential ingredients of a robust public debate on policy issues as part of vibrant democracy.”

• “The United Kingdom abolished sedition laws ten years back citing that the country did not want to be quoted as an example of using such draconian laws.”

• “Every irresponsible exercise of right to free speech and expression cannot be termed seditious.”

• “Expression of frustration over the state of affairs, for instance, calling India ‘no country for women’, or a country that is ‘racist’ for its obsession with skin colour as a marker of beauty, are critiques that do not threaten the idea of a nation.”