‘Public opinion in favour of repealing sedition law’ 

However, this consultation paper or its suggestions are not available on the current Law Commission’s website.

Published: 11th June 2023 08:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th June 2023 08:15 AM   |  A+A-

Sedition; dissent

Image used for illustrative purposes only. (Express Illustrations| Tapas Ranjan)

NEW DELHI:  Amid the row over the 22nd Law Commission’s recent recommendations to retain 
sedition laws and enhance punishment, a public consultation held by the 21st Law Commission seems to have revealed that more than 90 per cent of public opinion was in favour of repealing the colonial-era legislation. 

However, this consultation paper or its suggestions are not available on the current Law Commission’s website. A member of the 21st Law Commission told TNIE that the panel had published a consultation paper in 2018 and sought public views on the amendments to IPC Section 124A from stakeholders, scholars, academicians, intellectuals, the government and civil society members. 

The term of the 21st Law Commission, headed by retired judge B S Chauhan, ended on August 31, 2018.
“The consultation paper on sedition laws was prepared after a painstaking effort for more than a year. There were public consultations and seminars on these laws. We held deliberations with people from all walks of life. We went to the public and tried to get the views of people. Public opinion was against sedition during consultations. More than 90 per cent of the people wanted the sedition laws to go,” a member of the 21st law commission said on condition of anonymity.

In its consultation paper, the 21st Law panel said that irresponsible exercise of the right to free speech and expression cannot be termed seditious, and called for rethinking on the laws. It maintained that for merely expressing a thought that does not align with the policy of the government of the day, a person should not be charged under the law.

While the previous papers are not found on the website, the latest report of the law panel said that it has, “in its first meeting held on 17th January 2023, discussed the issue of usage of the law of sedition and was of the considered view that it requires a detailed examination, keeping in mind the various developments in the recent past … Looking into the urgency of the matter, the commission has discussed this issue with various stakeholders and scholars and made detailed research on the subject matter, finalising this report,” it said.

The 22nd Law Commission proposals, which were released recently, invited stringent criticism from many quarters including Opposition parties for allegedly making the laws more draconian to suppress dissent. In May last year, the Supreme Court put a hold on the operations of the sedition law.

What Law commission says

  • An irresponsible exercise of Right to Free Speech and Expression cannot be termed seditious 
  • One should not be charged for merely expressing a thought that does not align with the policy of the govt of the day
  • Need rethinking on the laws 

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