August 31: The Law Commission has released a consultation paper on sedition laws in India and underlined that Dissent and criticism are essential ingredients of a robust public debate as part of vibrant democracy.
The 21st Law Commission of India, headed by Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan, has in a consultation paper on sedition law stated that “democracy is not another name of majoritarianism; on the contrary it is a system to include every voice, where thought of every person is counted.
A total of 112 cases of sedition under Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code have been filed in the last 3 years, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs figure of 2017.
The Law Commission has said that a person should not be charged with sedition for “merely expressing a thought that is not in consonance with the policy of the Government of the day” and emphasised that charging the critics of government or country would only push the country back to the colonial era.
“People should be at liberty to show their affection towards their country in their own way”, the paper said.
“If the country is not open to positive criticism, there lies little difference between the pre- and post-Independence eras. Right to Criticize one’s own history and the Right to Offend are rights protected under free speech,” reads the consultation paper.