Section 124A of the Penal code is said to be against the essence of the Constitution. Why is it so?
Kevin Moses Paul 10 February 2021
175B083 Mahesh P S 25 February 2021
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Preksha Goyal 14 May 2021
In post-Independence India, Section 124A has come under intense scrutiny multiple times on the grounds that it seeks to curb our right to freedom of speech that is guaranteed by the provisions of Art. 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Many people have called it a tyrannic relic of pre-independence India, questioning its existence in an India that is free and has its own Constitution based on the principles of democracy. Thus, critics have claimed that this provision of the Indian Penal Code stands in violation of the very spirit that the Constitution of India seeks to attain.
In the case of Tara Singh Gopi Chand v. the State, where the Punjab and Haryana High Court addressed the issue of Constitutional validity of Section 124A.
The facts of the case were as follows:
In this case, two pleas were pending against Tara Singh with regards to two speeches that he had given, one in Karnal and one in Ludhiana. One of the sections under which he was charged was Section 124A. He challenged this, saying that the very crime of sedition is inappropriate in India after the foreign rule has ended, and submitted that Section 124A should be declared void as it is in contravention of the ‘Right of Freedom of Speech and Expression’ guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution.
The High Court agreed with the claim of Constitutional invalidity of Section 124A, and that it was a violation of the ‘Fundamental Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression’ as guaranteed by the provisions of Art. 19(1)(a). It struck down this provision and at the same time, quashed the proceedings against Tara Singh and ordered for him to be set free.
The Allahabad Court passed a similar ruling in the case of Ram Nandan v. State (1959), wherein Section 124A was declared ultra vires of the Constitution.