Sedition means is anyone who attempts to create hatred, contempt, or disaffection towards the government can be punished under the sedition law. The original constitution that was adopted in 1950 did not recognize the sedition law and gave the right to free speech complete protection under fundamental rights.

In British India, the provision on Sedition became a tool for punishment against anyone, such as freedom fighters, etc., who said or published anything against the British Government. After Independence, the law went through many stages through various cases, due to which new dimensions of sedition under Section 124A came into play.

What is Sedition Law..?

IPC’s Section 124A defines sedition as: “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, 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 with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which a fine may be added, or with fine.”

Sedition is typically restricted to organizing or promoting resistance to the government in a way that falls short of the more serious charges constituting treason, even if it may ultimately have the same result as treason. This might be done through writing or through speech.

For example: Waging war against the government



  • The sedition law was brought into force by the colonial British rulers in the 1860s.
  • In 1890, sedition was included as an offense under section 124A IPC through the Special Act XVII.
  • The law has been in controversy since the beginning as it was also used to suppress dissent and imprison freedom fighters. Freedom movement leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Bal Gangadhar Tilak were booked under the law.
  • In a historic judgment in the Kedar Nath case on January 20, 1962, the SC upheld the constitutional validity of the sedition law but also attempted to restrict the scope for its misuse. The order said that mere criticism of the government cannot be labeled sedition unless the words are intended to disturb public peace by violence. Kedar Nath Singh was a member of the Forward Communist Party.
  • After former PM Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984, two persons had raised slogans of “Khalistan Zindabad” and “Raj Karega Khalsa” in 1995 SC dismissed, the sedition charge saying that “raising some slogans only a couple of times by the two lonesome appellants, which neither evoked any response nor any reaction from anyone in public, cannot attract the provisions of Section 124A.”

Provisions on Sedition: Sedition Law in India

In India, the offence of sedition is covered by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) under Section 124A. Under IPC, ‘Chapter VI’ deals with the Offences against the State which comprises the following Offences:

  1. Waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India (Section 121)
  2. Conspiracy to commit offences punishable by section 121 (Section 121A)
  3. Collecting arms, etc., with the intention of waging war against the Government of India (Section 122)
  4. Concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war (Section 123)
  5. Assaulting President. Governor, etc., with intent to compel or restrain the exercise of any lawful power (Section 124)
  6. Sedition (Section 124A)
  7. Waging war against any Asiatic power in alliance with the Government of India (Section 125)
  8. Committing depredation on territories of power at peace with the Government of India (Section 126)
  9. Receiving property taken by war or depredation mentioned in sections 125 and 126 (Section 127)
  10. Public servants voluntarily allow prisoners of State or the war to escape (Section 128)

Landmark Cases

Queen Empress v. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, 1898

Before independence, the law on sedition was used as a tool for suppressing the voice of India. Such a case is of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was arrested twice for his publications; first, in 1897, when two British officers were killed as a result of other people being inspired by his remarks to propagate violence against the British, where the definition and application of Section 124A of the IPC were made for the first time and second, in 1908, where the authorities deemed his essay about the Maratha warrior Shivaji in his journal “Kesari” to be seditious. In this case, “Disaffection” was interpreted.

Vinod Dua v. Union of India, WP (CLR) no. 154 of 2020

Mr. Vinod Dua, a Padmashri laureate and journalist by profession for many years, published a YouTube video on his HW News Network YouTube channel as a segment of his program “The Vinod Dua Show.” In this video, the petitioner, Mr. Dua, discussed the national lockdown and the serious health problems brought on by Covid-19 & that the government lacked adequate testing facilities. It was alleged that the petitioner was disseminating hostile and misleading information against the Prime Minister of India, which was provoking violence among the population and upsetting public peace.

  • The Court held that, as long as a person does not incite people to commit acts of violence against the legally established government or cause public disorder, a citizen has the right to criticize the government’s and its officials’ actions. 
  • It is only when the words or expressions have the pernicious tendency or intention of causing public disorder or disturbing law and order that Sections 124A and 505 of the IPC must be invoked.

S.G. Vombatkere v. Union of India, 2022

The legislation on sedition remained to exist, and charges were filed under Section 124A until recently despite these worries and widespread resistance to its abuse. However, Section 124A on sedition has been suspended as a result of the Union of India’s evidence in S.G. Vombatkere v. Union of India, 2022, and the order therein.

  • The Court in the case held that all pending trials, appeals, and proceedings with respect to the charge framed under Section 124A of IPC be kept in abeyance. 
  • Adjudication with respect to other Sections, if any, could proceed if the Courts are of the opinion that no prejudice would be caused to the accused. If any fresh case is registered under Section 124A of IPC, the affected parties are at liberty to approach the concerned Courts for appropriate relief. 
  • The Courts are requested to examine the reliefs sought, taking into account the present order passed as well as the clear stand taken by the Union of India – We hope and expect that the State and Central Governments will restrain from registering any FIR, continuing any investigation or taking any coercive measures by invoking Section 124A of IPC while the aforesaid provision of law is under consideration





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