Opinion: Implication of Shreya Singhal Judgment on Sedition Law

Few months ago, the media and social networking sites were anxious over what the Supreme Court verdict would be on the vires of the notorious Section 66A of the Information Technology Act 2000.[1] Many scholars[2] have expressed their appreciation for both the conclusion and the reasoning of the Court in holding the provision unconstitutional.
It is this precise and correct reasoning of the Court, a part of which would be the subject matter of this paper, i.e., as to how it would impact on the legal understanding of the sedition law in Section 124A[3]Indian Penal Code. Initially, the paper would trace the colonial history of the sedition law in India and then,how post independence the colonial understanding of the sedition law is altered and harmonised with the Constitution of India under Article 19. In light of this framework, the paper would firstly,deal with the Constitutionally consistent “tendency to affect” test, which was earlier used to determine whether an act of sedition is committed, and then, understand how the Section 66A judgment, alters this test and calls for a renewed understanding to uphold the Constitutional validity of sedition laws.
The full article can be accessed here:


[1] Judgment holding Section 66A unconstitutional: Shreya Singhal v. UOI, Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 167 of 2012, MANU/ SC/0329/2015. (hereinafter the judgment, for sake of brevity, would be referred as ‘Section 66A judgment’.
[2]See also G Bhatia, Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy, Last accessed on 1st January 2016 at https://indconlawphil.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/the-striking-down-of-section-66a-how-indian-free-speech-jurisprudence-found-its-soul-again/ (accessed 1 January 2016), See for more related research on this topic- Nivedita Saksena & Siddhartha Srivastava, ‘An Analysis of the Modern Offence of Sedition’, accessible at http://nujslawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Nivedita-Saxena.pdf
[3] See G Bhatia, Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy, Last accessed on 1st January 2016 at https://indconlawphil.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/the-striking-down-of-section-66a-how-indian-free-speech-jurisprudence-found-its-soul-again/ (accessed 1 January 2016) from where the link between the reasoning in Shreya Singhal and its impact on Sedition law was observed and has been analysed in depth in the present article. Currently, after an amendment in 1898, Section 124A IPC states:
“Sedition- Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India shall be punished with imprisonment for life to which fine may be added or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine. Explanation 1. The expression “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings or enmity. Explanation 2. Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection do not constitute an offence under this section. Explanation 3. Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative of other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.”
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