The Misuse of Sedition Law to Stifle Freedom of Information: A Closer Look at RTI Act 2005

Title: The Misuse of Sedition Law to Stifle Freedom of Information: A Closer Look at RTI Act 2005


Many nations, like India, still uphold the sedition law that was passed during colonial times. The law punishes speech, writing, and other kinds of communication that are thought to incite hatred or disapproval with the government. The law has drawn heavy fire for being ambiguous, arbitrary, and a violation of the constitutional right to free speech. On the other hand, the Right to Information Act (RTI), passed in India in 2005 and subject to a few exceptions, grants citizens access to information held by public bodies. The RTI has been praised as a significant step towards increased accountability and transparency in government. In order to balance transparency and issues related to national security, the paper contends that the sedition law should be repealed and the RTI must be amended.


The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) is hailed as one of India’s most powerful tools to ensure transparency, accountability, and good governance. It empowers citizens by granting them the privilege of obtaining information from public authorities. However, the very essence of this act has been challenged due to the misuse of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the sedition law. In recent years, there have been instances where individuals invoking the RTI Act have been charged with sedition, raising concerns about the freedom of information in India.

Understanding the Sedition Law and its Unintended Consequences:

The sedition law, Section 124A of the IPC, was enacted during the colonial era to suppress dissent against the British rule. It criminalizes any act that brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt towards the government. Unfortunately, this vague and broad definition has provided ample room for misuse in post-independence India.

The RTI Act, on the other hand, encourages citizens to seek information from public authorities, fostering an atmosphere of transparency and accountability. However, the overlap between the RTI Act and the sedition law has resulted in instances where individuals have faced sedition charges for merely exercising their right to information.

The Clash between RTI Activists and the Authorities:

Numerous cases across the country highlight the misuse of the sedition law against those seeking information through the RTI Act. Whistleblowers, journalists, and RTI activists who have exposed corruption, malpractices, and lapses in governance have faced sedition charges.

For instance, Satish Shetty, a whistleblower who exposed a land scam involving politicians and bureaucrats, was murdered in 2010. Another case occurred in 2016, when a man named Kanhaiya Kumar was charged with sedition for allegedly making anti-national statements at a student rally in Delhi. Kumar had also filed several RTI applications seeking information about government spending on education and other issues. Similarly many other cases, demonstrate the growing trend of suppressing information seekers using the sedition law.

Chilling Effect on Freedom of Expression and Right to Information:

The misuse of the sedition law against RTI activists and whistleblowers has had a chilling effect on the freedom of expression and the right to information. It creates a hostile environment where individuals fear repercussions for seeking information that may be critical of the government or those in power.

Such misuse not only violates the fundamental right to information but also raises serious concerns about the ability of citizens to hold their governments accountable. When individuals face sedition charges merely for exercising their right to information, it undermines the principles of democracy, transparency, and good governance.

The Misuse of Sedition Law to Stifle Freedom of Information: A Closer Look at RTI Act 2005

Calls for Reform:

The misuse of the sedition law against those seeking information through the RTI Act has sparked widespread debate and calls for judicial and legislative interventions. Various legal experts, civil society organizations, and human rights activists have demanded the need to revisit

References: 2783082/#:~:text=Shetty%20started%20receiving%20threats%20and,sharp%20weapon%20in%20Talegaon%20Dabhade.&text=Shetty’s%20family%20had%20demanded%20probe,in%20his%20application%20seeking%20protection.,are%20required%20to%20disclose%20information.






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