Author: Aditya Krishna Gupta, a student at Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Dwarka Sector-14. New Delhi 


Old propositions and myriad doctrines have been laid down over time that the lawless justice system is intended to cover and add to the wealth of the state and society. This laborious structure of law is not only about structure and surveillance but also takes into consideration the protection of countrymen, rehabilitation after loss, being pious to the supreme document, the Constitution, and holding up values of justice, equity, and good heart. The law takes into account the lives of several corridors of society living within a United Territory. But it has to be flashed back, in agreement, by every single stakeholder in the lawless justice system that he must act with a sense of fairness and be alive of his arrears. 

One analogous legal provision includes sedition, which aims to maintain a sense of veneration towards a lawfully tagged government but is attendant with extravagant limitations and difficulties. At times, this particular portion has been understood as a fatal potion predicated on certain validation, directing it to be in contradiction with mortal rights and freedoms. The succeeding case analysis can be reprised in a single judgment in such a way that it demonstrates truly typical and realistic access to the law of sedition, contouring the significant data, arguments presented, and explanations brought by the court of law by taking corner opinions for validation.


★ Vital Information 

■ Court: The High Court Of Judicature at Bombay 

■ Decided: March 17, 2015 

■ Case Number: Cri.PIL 3-2015 

■ Type of law: Criminal Law, Constitutional Law

 ■ Judge(s) sitting: Mr. Mohit S. Shah, Chief Justice & Mr. N.M. Jamdar, Justice 

■ Keywords: Sedition, Cartoons, Public Order, Article-19 (Freedom of Expression)

Conspectus of the indubitable factual matrix of the concerned case

The unfortunate incident occurred in 2012, which led to the appearance of lawless action. Present Public Interest Litigation arose following the arrest of the criminated person, Videlicet, Assem Trivedi, predicated on the First Information Report, which purported to purport the criminated in charge of commission of an offence of sedition punishable under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code 1860. Assem Trivedi was a political cartoonist and social activist. The above-mentioned FIR intertwined him with the charge of not only defaming the Parliament, the Constitution, and the Ashoka Chakra but also for his trials of spreading abomination and disrespectfulness against the government and publishing cartoons on the India Against Corruption” website, which not only amounted to personality under the National ensigns Act but also amounted to a serious act of sedition. 

He was made liable under IPC Section 124A, Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, and Section 2 of the Prevention of Cuts to National Honor Act. At the onset, Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860 is commonly referred to as Sedition Law. According to this law, any person who uses words, written or spoken, signs or visible representation, or any other means to bring hatred or contempt towards the government of India or to excite disaffection towards it shall be punished with either life imprisonment or imprisonment for up to three times the maximum term, along with a fine. Explanation 1 The expression “souring” includes disloyalty and all heartstrings of hostility. Explanation 2: A commentary expressing disfavour of the measures of the government to gain their modification by legal means without instigating or trying to excite abomination, misprision, or disaffection does not constitute an offence under this section. Explanation 3: A commentary expressing favour of the superintendent or the other action of the government without instigating or trying to excite abomination, disdain, or disaffection does not constitute an offence under this section. 

It would be material to mention that the National Totems Act aims to enjoin the infelicitous use of the State Emblem of India for professional and marketable purposes and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. 


The Hon’ble High Court dealt with the limited question of the incantation of Section 124A of the IPC. The court provided a detailed interpretation of sedition law and limits to free speech for public order. 

Arguments advanced before the Hon’ble Court 

The third representative claimed to have exercised his fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. As a cartoonist, he claimed that his arrest and incarceration gravely harmed the freedom provided to every citizen by Provision 19( 1)( g) of the Constitution of India. Composition 19( 1)( a) confers the abecedarian right to freedom of speech and expression, and Composition 19( 2) reads as follows:” This secured right is subject to the council’s authority to impose reasonable restrictions, the scope of which is indicated by clause(2), which reads as follows in its revised form: “19(2) Nothing in sub-clause(a) of clause(1) shall affect the operation of any law or assist the State in making any law, except where an analogous law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the aforementioned sub-clause in the interests of the State’s security, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency, or morality, or concerning misprision of court, defamation, or incitement to an offence.” In reply to the contentions made by the criminated person, the suppliant vehemently argued that away from displaying the cartoons, Assem Trivedi had also uploaded some of his cartoons on the website called” Cards Against Corruption.” Shortly later, a series of FIRs were filed against the accused. It was also contended that the publishing of analogous cartoons, besides amounting to personality under the National Ensigns Act, also amounts to being seditious. It was stated that the indicted had deliberately published analogous seditious and stag content’. The lawyer representing the convicted individual argued that the police unfairly charged him with sedition under Section 124A of the IPC. The cartoonist was protected by The Indian Constitution, Article 19(1)(a), which provides freedom of speech and expression. The lawyer asked the court to review the case in order to avoid similar false allegations in the future. 


Chief Justice Mohit S. Shah delivered the judgement in agreement with Justice N.M. Jamdar. The solicitation was in favour of the accused, Assem Trivedi, who was charged under Section 124A of the IPC. The judges held that this section cannot be used to punish individuals who criticise the government’s policies with the intention of improving them through legal means. Criticism of the government, even if expressed in strong language, is permissible as long as it does not incite violence. The judges stated that such criticism is not a criminal offence. A citizen has the freedom to say or write whatever he wants against the government or its policies in the form of a review or commentary, as long as he does not incite people to violence against the government or cause a public complaint. The section aims at rendering correctional only similar conditioning as would be intended, or have a tendency, to produce a complaint or disturbance of public peace by resorting to violence. The cartoons displayed were full of truthfulness and nausea against corruption prevailing in the political system and had no element of wit, humour, or affront. However, because there is no allegation of incitement to violence or the tendency or intention to produce a public complaint, the accused’s right to free speech and expression, which allowed him to express his fury at corruption in the political system in harsh terms or by pictorial representations, could not have been violated. After assaying the data and circumstances of the present case and taking into consideration similar burgeoning hassles with particular freedoms, the Hon’ble Court laid down the following non-exhaustive guidelines, which were to be followed rigorously by all the material units.

  1. The words, signs, or representations must bring the government (central or state) into abomination or disdain or must beget or essay to beget souring, hostility, or disloyalty to the government; they must also be an incitement to violence; they must be intended or tend to produce a public complaint; or they must have a reasonable apprehension of a public complaint. 
  2. Words, signs, or representations against politicians or public retainers do not fall in this sequence unless the words, signs, or representations show them as government representatives. 
  3. Commentaries expressing disapprobation or review of the government to carry out a change of government by legal means without any of the below aren’t inflammatory under Section 124A. 
  4. Profanity or roughness should not be considered as an element or consideration in determining whether a case fits under the purview of Section 124A of the IPC, as they are covered by other provisions of the law. 


The meaning of this progressive democracy is cheapened rigorously because of its wild sectarianism towards exceptions and examinations. Freedoms like those of speech and expression are munitions for doves who believe that war and violence are unwarranted. But the government, under the mask of legal vittles, has tethered these rights and freedoms to untenable restrictions. The below-mentioned case laws give forceful validation to support the aforementioned statement. Laws like sedition have ransacked the voice of people and have put the aspirations of society in a scuffled state. While making interpretations of Section 124A of the IPC, one must keep in mind the history. Sedition shall not be regarded as a law, but rather a mockery of the system. It emanates from the social period when Britishers brought this truculent rule to suppress resistance. The ramifications could have been seen in the freedom struggles when the great leaders were immorally detained in the name of sedition. Among them were Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi described the law of sedition as a Napoleon among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code which were fashioned in such a way to suppress the autonomy of the citizen.” The issue was vastly batted in the Constituent Assembly, and every portion of the section was delineated. And when we rejoice in these 75 years of our independence from gregarious rule, we still converse around the law. It’s instrumentally used by the government to regulate the combating noises of resistance, politicians, and activists, which is leading to the waning of democracy, and therefore, 124A is a twist in the latitude of individualities.

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