The Law Commission of India has proposed retaining sedition law with key amendments, Bar and Bench reported on Friday.
The commission, headed by former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Ritu Raj Awasthi, said that calling the law part of a “colonial legacy” is not a valid ground for its repeal.
“Going by that virtue, the entire framework of the Indian legal system is a colonial legacy,” it said, according to PTI. “The police force and the idea of an All-India Civil Service are also temporal remnants of the British era.”
The commission suggested that the jail term under the law should be increased from three years to seven years.
“This would allow the courts greater room to award punishment for a case of sedition in accordance with the scale and gravity of the act committed,” the commission said in its report.
Last year, the Supreme Court had put the colonial-era sedition law under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code in abeyance and requested state governments and the Centre to not file any new cases under the rule till it is re-examined.
The section states that whoever “brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India” can be held to have committed the offence of sedition.
However, in a letter to Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, the commission has now suggested including the words “with a tendency to incite violence or cause public disorder”.
It clarified that the expression “tendency” would mean mere inclination to incite violence or cause public disorder rather than proof of actual violence or imminent threat to violence, according to Bar and Bench.
The commission also told the law minister that in the absence of sedition law, “any expression that incites violence against the government” would “invariably be tried under the special laws and counter-terror legislation” which are more stringent, according to PTI.
“Repealing sedition on the mere basis that certain countries have done so is essentially turning a blind eye to the glaring ground realities existing in India,” it added.