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Law Commission supports sedition law, says it should be maintained with safeguards to prevent misuse

New Delhi, June 2 (Language)

The Law Commission has supported the penal provision relating to the offense of sedition, saying that its complete repeal can have serious adverse effects on the security and integrity of the country. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code related to sedition is suspended after the directions of the Supreme Court issued in May, 2022. The Commission said that to strike down this provision merely on the ground that some countries have done so would mean turning a blind eye to the appalling ground reality in India. It said that this provision can be maintained by taking necessary steps to prevent its misuse. Amid allegations of misuse, there is a demand to repeal this provision. The panel, in a report submitted to the government recently, said that in view of the misuse of section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), it recommends that the Center issue guidelines to prevent it. Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi (retd), Chairman of the 22nd Law Commission, wrote in the cover letter to Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, “In this context, it is also suggested alternatively that the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) A provision similar to section 196(3) may be incorporated in section 154 of CrPC as a rule, to provide necessary procedural safeguards before registration of FIR under section 124A of IPC. The report said that though it is imperative to lay down certain procedural guidelines to prevent misuse of Section 124A by law enforcement officers on sedition, allegations of misuse of the provision do not mean that it should be repealed. The commission said that the “colonial legacy” of sedition was not a valid basis for its repeal. The Law Commission in the report noted that the existence of laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the National Security Act do not cover all the elements of the offense envisaged under section 124A of the IPC. “Furthermore, in the absence of provisions such as section 124A of the IPC, special laws and anti-terror laws would be used against every expression that incites violence against the government,” said the report, titled “The use of the law of sedition”. which contain far more stringent provisions for the accused.” It added that any alleged misuse of Section 124A of the IPC can be prevented by taking adequate procedural safeguards, but a total repeal of the provision “The security and integrity of the country can be seriously affected and result in free hand for destructive forces to pursue their nefarious designs.

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