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VOICING DISSENT AGAINST GOVERNMENT IS NOT SEDITION: SUPREME COURT




What happened?

PIL was filed against National Conference President Farooq Abdullah for his comments made in context of abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir


Who is Farooq Abdullah ? Farooq Abdullah (born 21 October 1937) is an Indian politician and chairman of Jammu & Kashmir National Conference. He has served as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on several occasions since 1982, and as the union minister for New and Renewable Energy between 2009 and 2014. He is the father of former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah.


CAUSE TITLE : Rajat Sharma v. Union of India, 2021


The petitioners submitted the following:


“Mr Farooq Abdullah has committed the offence punishable under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. As he has made the live statement for restoring Article 370 he would take help of China which clearly amount to seditious act and therefore he is liable to be punished under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.”


Section 124A of IPC- Offence of Sedition


The following essentials must be established to make the person liable under Section 124A of IPC-


a) That the accused has brought or attempted to bring hatred or contempt against the government established by law or excites or attempts to excite disaffection.

b) That accused has done so by words, spoken or written or y signs or by visible representations or otherwise.

c) Mere casual slogans made by the accused or being author of the seditious material or mere possession of the seditious material will not constitute the offence of Sedition. To constitute the offence of Sedition there must be dissemination of the material.

d) Mere criticism of government cannot be taken to be an offence of Sedition. To make the person liable under this Section the actus reus of the accused must be either to incite violence of to create disorder in the society.


Constitutionality of the offence of Sedition was upheld in the case of Kedar Nath v. State of Bihar, 1962 SC.

Court held- The expression of a view which is dissent from a decision taken by the central government itself cannot be said to be seditious.


The court said- “there is nothing in the statement which it would found to be offensive so as to give a cause of action for court to initiate proceedings.”


The Supreme Court observed that it is not seditious to have views different from the government.


The Bench has rejected the plea and imposed a fine amounting to Rs. 50,000 on the petitioners for making such claims.


The Bench also said- “Not only that, the petitioners have nothing to do with the subject matter and this is clearly a case of publicity interest litigation for the petitioners only to get their names in press. We must discourage such endeavours.”


The court maintained that “dissent” is a form of free speech and expression. It added these rights are protected under the Constitution.


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