The constitutional validity of Section 124A (which defines and penalizes Sedition) of the Indian Penal Code has been challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court by a farmers’ union.
The Haryana Progressive Farmers Union, through Advocate Pardeep Kumar Rapria, filed the petition, alleging that the abuse of the law of sedition continues unabated, with cases being filed to muzzle opponents, chilling the right to demonstrate.
The plea contends that the criminal offence of sedition is imprecise and lacks proper definition.
However, the Sessions Court in Sirsa recently granted bail to five farmers who were charged with sedition for allegedly attacking Vidhan Sabha Deputy Speaker Ranbir Gangwa’s convoy earlier this month, observing that the commission of the offence of sedition under Section 124-A IPC in the case is doubtful.
According to the petition, the Government was deploying terror tactics against farmers, just because the farmers were waving black flags at BJP leaders.
The plea contends that while the Supreme Court has established certain guiding principles for determining what constitutes sedition, there is no explicit definition of sedition capable of regulating the conduct of ordinary citizens or law enforcement officials.
“The definition of sedition available to law enforcement agencies and the police is the one available on the statute books, which is the literal interpretation that was read down by this Hon’ble Court in Kedar Nath’s case. As the guiding principles enunciated by Kedar Nath are unknown to most citizens and police, the law of sedition has come to be heavily abused with cases being filed against citizens for exercising their freedom of speech and expression,” submits the plea.
More importantly, the plea contends that by the time the Courts intervene to apply the Kedarnath Singh interpretation to the circumstances of the cases, persons have already been deprived of their liberty.
The plea also emphasizes that Section 124A IPC has no proximate relationship with public order because the instigation has no proximate relationship with public order.