New Delhi [India], May 1 (ANI): A writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860, which penalises the crime of "sedition".
The plea filed by Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha and others urged the court to declare the said section as "unconstitutional".
Section 124-A of the Indian Constitution infringes the fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (a) which guarantees that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.
The section says whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, attempts to bring into hatred or contempt or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life.
"The restriction imposed by section 124-A is unreasonable and therefore does not constitute a permissible restriction in terms of Article 19(2) of the Constitution. Hence this petition is filed to pray that Section 124-A be declared unconstitutional and void by this Court and be struck out of the IPC," the petition said.
The plea said that Section 124-A is "unnecessary" to protect the interests of state security and public disorder, and is duplicated by more recent legislation which directly and sufficiently prevents and deals with the mischief of public disorder and public violence.
"There exists no urgency justifying the employment of Section 124-A, given that the interests of state security and the public order are sufficiently protected elsewhere in Indian law. Section 124-A is a disproportionate imposition on the freedom of expression and fails to constitute the least restrictive means to protect state security and public disorder in this regard," it added.
The petition further said that Section 124-A 'fails to meet' the international standard of 'necessity' which India is under the obligation to meet as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
"The said Section fails to meet the international standard of 'legality' which India is under the obligation meet as a party to the ICCPR, and the terms 'intention' and 'tendency' in the interpretation of Section 124-A are so subjective that the law is uncertain and unascertainable and are an invitation to abuse by authorities," it said.
It noted that the 'vagueness' of Section 124-A exerts an 'unacceptable chilling effect' on the democratic freedoms of individuals who cannot enjoy their legitimate democratic rights and freedoms for fear of life imprisonment.
"The Section 124-A is frequently abused and misapplied in India and it calls itself a 'democracy', and throughout the democratic world in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada and many others, the offence of sedition has been condemned as undemocratic, undesirable and unnecessary," the petition added. (ANI)