Sedition cases in India: What data says

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News:The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has released the data on sedition cases in India between 2014 and 2018.

Facts:

Key Takeaways from the Data:

  • The Sedition cases have been increasing over the years as in 2014, there were 47 cases of sedition but that number has increased to 70 in 2018.
  • However, compared to other offences, sedition still remains a rare crime as it accounts for less than 0.01% of all IPC crimes.
  • Some parts in India are emerging as sedition hotspots as Assam and Jharkhand with 37 sedition cases each, account for 32% of all sedition cases between 2014-2018.
  • Further,the data has also shown the abysmally low conviction rate in sedition cases as police managed conviction in only four of the 43 cases where the trial has been completed in the past five years.

Additional Information:

About Sedition:

  • The concept of sedition was introduced under Section 124A under the penal code in 1870.
  • It states that whoever brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India shall be punished.
  • Sedition is a non-bailable offence.Punishment under the Section 124A ranges from imprisonment up to three years to a life term, to which fine may be added.

Famous sedition trials during freedom movement:

  • Some of the most famous sedition trials of the late 19th and early 20th century involved Indian nationalist leaders. 
  • The first among them was the trial of Jogendra Chandra Bose in 1891. Bose, the editor of the newspaper, Bangobasi, wrote an article criticizing the Age of Consent Bill for posing a threat to the religion and for its coercive relationship with Indians.
  • The other most well-known cases are the sedition trials of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and the trial of Mahatma Gandhi in 1922. 

Supreme Court Judgements on Sedition:

Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar,1962:

  • The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Section 124-A (sedition).
  • However,it said that every citizen has a right to say or write about the government by way of criticism or comment as long as it does not incite people to violence against the government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder.

P.Alavi vs State of Kerala,1982:

  • The Supreme Court held that sloganeering, criticising of Parliament or Judicial setup does not amount to sedition.

Balwant Singh v State of Punjab,1995:

  • The Supreme Court acquitted persons from charges of sedition for shouting slogans such as “Khalistan Zindabad”.
  • The court held that mere raising of slogans by two individuals alone cannot be said to be aimed at exciting or attempt to excite hatred or disaffection by the government.