Offences against the state and its Misuse

While the majority of crimes are committed against particular people or pieces of property, certain types of crimes can have a broader impact, sometimes targeting the federal government or country as a whole. Unlike crimes that solely violate state laws, these types of acts violate federal law and are handled within the federal court system. Crimes Against the Government which include treason, espionage, voter intimidation, and terrorism. Since these acts can potentially affect the safety and stability of the country, the penalties for a conviction can sometimes be severe All crimes are treated as offences against the State, or government, insofar as these acts/actions disturb the public tranquillity, national integration, and public order. But there are some criminal activities that are directed against the existence of the state itself viz. treason, sedition, and rebellion. Thus, cases reported under sections 121, 121A, 122, 123, 124A, 153A and 153B of Indian Penal Code (IPC) have been categorized as ‘Offences against the State’.

Offences against state are taken quite seriously as compared to other. The punishment for the same are harsh too. One Might wonder why the punishment of this crime is quite harsh, the reason being its treason. Treason has been always considered one of the biggest crimes. The reason being the “The murderer is in greater danger after his victim is dispatched than before. The thief is in greater danger after the purse is taken than before. But the rebel is out of danger as soon as he has subverted the Government”.[1]

The cases of sedation are increasing day by day, whether they are real or just a criticism by citizens taken in a wrong way. There are 326 sedition cases filed in India from 2014 to 2019. More than 300 cases were registered under the debated, “colonial” era sedition law across the country from 2014 to 2019.Out of the total 326 cases registered under sedition in the six-year period, only six people were convicted. Offence of sedition has been hugely misused. One might think whether it is the same when it used by the British to “silence” people like Mahatma Gandhi to suppress the freedom movement.

 A 14-year girl stood up on a stage in Bangalore and began a speech with the words “Pakistan Zindabad”. She was promptly arrested. Earlier this month, in Kashmir, three students were arrested for raising pro-Pakistan slogans. In both these cases and other similar cases, the police have made arrests on the grounds of sedition and reignited the debate around India’s sedition law. And the latest data suggest that this law remains as relevant as ever with sedition arrests increasing in recent years.[2]

Assam is topping the list with 54 cases, while Jharkhand with 40 cases and Haryana reported 31 cases. Next on the list are Bihar, Kerala, and Jammu & Kashmir, with 25 cases each in this period, followed by Karnataka at 22. While no chargesheet was filed in both Bihar and Kerala, these were filed in three cases in Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka saw chargesheets in 17 cases. No case ended in a conviction in any of the four states.

Recently Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana’s sends a strong message to the government that the Supreme Court is prima facie convinced that sedition is being abused by the authorities to squash upon citizens’ fundamental rights of free speech and liberty. The CJI has made it clear that the court is sensitive to the public demand to judicially review the manner in which law enforcement authorities are using the sedition law to control free speech and send journalists, activists, and dissenters to jail, and keep them there.  In a way court has questioned the need for the continuance of Section 124A. This is a step away from the court’s own Kedar Nath judgment of 1962 which had upheld Section 124A but read it down to mean any subversion of an elected government by violent means. The court will have to re-examine whether this 59-year-old judgment holds in the modern context when the State is itself using a punitive law to impose serious burdens on free speech.

There are low conviction rates under the sedition law. In 2019, 93 cases were on the ground of sedition as compared to the 35 cases that were filed in 2016. The same constitutes a 165% increase. Of these 93 cases, chargesheets were filed in a mere 17% of cases and even worse, the conviction rate was an abysmally low 3.3%.

Majority of the time as mentioned these laws are misused. An opinion towards some law or government is taken as an offence and taken in wrong way. Freedom of speech is confused with these laws.



Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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