The Law Commission in its report to the government has expressed strong support for the retention of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, commonly known as the sedition law.
While acknowledging the need for changes related to its application, the Commission argued that repealing the law would ignore the current situation in India.
The recommendation emphasises on the importance of keeping the law, albeit with some alterations.
The Commission suggests increasing the punishment for sedition to life imprisonment or up to seven years from current three years.
Last year, the sedition law was challenged in the Supreme Court, following which the apex court suspended criminal trials and court proceedings under the law, while permitting the government to reexamine it.
The government then tasked the Law Commission to review the law.
In its report, the Law Commission warned that completely abolishing the sedition law could have "serious adverse ramifications for the security and integrity of the country" as it would allow subversive forces to pursue their agenda unchecked.
"Section I24A of IPC has its utility in combating anti-national and secessionist elements as it seeks to protect the elected government from attempts to overthrow it through violent and illegal means," the Commission said, reports NDTV.
In a bid to add safeguards before filing a sedition case, recommendations have been made in the report.
The report advises that an FIR for sedition should only be registered after a preliminary inquiry by a police officer not below the rank of Inspector, and with permission from the Central or State government.
The Law Commission advises establishing procedural guidelines to prevent misuse of the sedition law. However, allegation of its misuse shouldn't lead to its abolition, according to the Commission.
The Law Commission report notes that the the sedition law should not be repealed just because it is a "colonial legacy".
The report also counters the idea that other legislations such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and National Security Act can handle charges related to activities considered anti-national. According to the report, these laws do not cover all aspects of the offense envisaged under Section 124A of the IPC.
Further, the Commission said that without the sedition law, violent offences against the government would be tried under the special laws and counter-terror legislation that are far more stringent in dealing with those accused.
Law Commission said each country's legal system deals with its own unique realities.
"Repealing Section 124A of IPC on the mere basis that certain countries have done so is essentially turning a blind eye to the glaring ground realities existing in India," the Commission said.
The report highlights instances where various laws were misused for settling personal rivalries and interests. It adds that Supreme Court has acknowledged this in multiple judgments.
The report highlights instances where laws are used for settling personal rivalries and interests, and the Supreme Court has acknowledged this in multiple judgments.
According to the report, there has never been "any plausible demand to repeal any such laws merely on the ground that they are being misused by a section of the populace. This is so because for every abuser of that law, there might be 10 other genuine victims of any offence who direly need the protection of such a law".
What is required is to introduce legal ways and means to prevent the misuse of such a law, the report said.
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