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Scrap sedition

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Photo: Mint

Under the British raj, it served as a tool against non-violent resistance, as mounted by Mahatma Gandhi. Today, it stifles the very freedom we had struggled for. This malevolent leftover law should be scrapped. If our apex court helps do that, it would serve our constitutional ideals well.

“Does the government want to retain the sedition law 75 years after Independence?" This was the big question posed by a Supreme Court bench led by the Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana. The court was hearing a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial-era law notorious for its frequent misuse against those deemed ‘anti-national’. “The use of sedition," observed Ramana, “is like giving a saw to the carpenter to cut a piece of wood, and he uses it to cut the entire forest itself."

Section 124A, with its non-bailable provisions and loose wording that gives governments a club to thwack dissent, as it covers the incitement of disaffection towards the prevailing regime, has in recent times been wielded against members of opposition parties as well as civil-society activists who are critical of the current dispensation. Under the British raj, it served as a tool against non-violent resistance, as mounted by Mahatma Gandhi. Today, it stifles the very freedom we had struggled for. This malevolent leftover law should be scrapped. If our apex court helps do that, it would serve our constitutional ideals well.

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