What is Law of Sedition – A complete guide

Understanding the Law of Sedition: How does it work? 


Every citizen has been given the freedom to speak and express their views under Article 19(1) (a) of the Indian Constitution. However, this freedom given to the citizens is not absolute and there are restrictions imposed on the speech and views under Article 19(2). Let us try to understand what is the law of sedition and how does it work?

When a person does an act by his words, sign or representation which is contemptuous towards the Government of India, then such act is punishable under section 124-A of Indian Penal Code, 1860. The provision of section 124A is very wide as it covers the act of defamation of Government.

Meaning of the term ‘Sedition’

The term sedition means “conduct or speech that defames the authority of the state in any way”. The law is regarded as a reasonable restriction on the Freedom of Speech, drafted by Thomas Macaulay in the year 1870.

How the Law originated?

The origin of law in India is connected to the Wahabis Movement of the 19th century.

Led by Syed Ahmed Barelvi is an Islamic revivalist movement.

The movement was active since 1870 but in the wake of 1857 revolt, it turned into armed resistance, a jihad against the British.

 The British carried out military operations against Wahabis as they termed them as rebels.

Activities regarded as Seditious in Nature

The acts that are seditious in nature is highly debated in India. As per the Indian Penal Code, a seditious act should have the following components.

  1. Any word which can be either written or spoken or any sign which can be represented like through placards/posters which is visible.
  2. The statement or the word must include hatredness or dissatisfaction against the Indian Government.
  3.  It must include imminent violence or public disorder.

What are the laws which include sedition?

  • Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 124A)
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 95)
  • The Seditious Meetings Act, 1911
  • The Unlawful Activities (Pevention) Act (Section 2)

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