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Background Note

Free Speech and Sedition in a Democracy

There is a strong case to question the continuation of sedition laws in democratic India for at least three reasons. First, they were framed by colonial ‘rulers’ to suppress dissent raised by the ‘ruled’, and is out of place in a democratic republic in which political sovereignty rests with the citizens. Second, despite the highest judiciary of independent India reading down the Section, there appears to be little political restraint in invoking it to incarcerate dissenters of all hues. Third, the existing provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) are sufficient to address all threats to violence and public order.

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