Not Sedition Law but its Misuse be Stopped

It is an oft-repeated statement that the Supreme Court of India is Supreme, not because it is infallible but because it is final. While hearing the constitutionality of section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code, which relates to the offence of sedition, the Supreme Court has put its operation in abeyance till it is reconsidered by the government of India to which it has agreed. With all humility and respect, I feel that this interim order of the Supreme Court is unjustified. There are no two opinions that civil liberties are to be balanced with the security of the state. The Union Home Secretary has already stated on oath that no FIR involving sedition would be registered until an officer of at least SP rank records in writing his/her satisfaction.
After all, how are you going to deal with such people who openly shout slogans and provoke the public to rise in revolt against India till its Barbadi (ruination)? Or ‘Bharat tere tukde honge hazar’ (India will splinter into thousand pieces) or ‘we must cut the chicken neck of India so that the supplies to the north-east are stopped and it can be separated from the

rest of the country? Can these be allowed in the name of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19? What justification can be given to those who say that the Bombay blast was the handiwork of Indian forces, that too without even an iota of proof or evidence? Is there any doubt about the malafide intentions of these persons who make such irresponsible statements?
Sedition law is more than 150 years old as this section was included in the IPC in 1890 and like any other law, it must also be changed to keep pace with times but not without visualising the challenges that may arise. Obliterating any law from the statute on the ground of it being of the colonial era is no plausible reason. By that logic, the bulk of IPC, CrPC and CPC is of the colonial era, can they also be done away with? When the offence of the sedition was introduced, the punishment prescribed was transportation for life which was amended to life imprisonment in 1955. In the pre-Independence era, this law was used to stifle political dissent with cases lodged against Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Annie Besant, Maulana Azad, Mahatma Gandhi and many others. The legacy of this law in India comes from England. But citing its chilling effect on freedom of speech and expression, it was repealed by the United Kingdom in 2009. The Constituent Assembly debated this issue in great detail. Some considered it a restriction on the fundamental right to freedom of speech, but the majority did not subscribe to this view
After Independence, a five-judge Constitution Bench upheld the constitutional validity of 124 A in Kedar Nath Singh’s case, but it left some ambiguity between the State and the Government. In fact, it is very cogent reasoning that criticism of the government cannot be labelled sedition. There is a big difference between sedition and treason, while treason is justified, sedition is indefensible. There is no doubt that sedition law is draconian but removing it lock, stock and barrel from the statute book will help only those who have anathema for the unity and integrity of the country.
In the Kedar Nath Singh judgment, the Supreme Court had issued certain guidelines underlining when critical speech cannot be qualified as sedition. Therefore, the need is to stop the misuse of law, which is found in the case of many other laws. To top it all, the judicial system must keep a smart vigil on false cases by way of early relief and punishment to those who misuse the law.