Updated December 20th, 2023 at 22:16 IST

Section 150 replaces colonial-era sedition law: Here's what has changed

Amit Shah said that, under the new law, anyone can criticise the government and they will not be imprisoned.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Protesting against government will not be illegal anymore, says Shah | Image:PTI
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In a historic move, Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita Bill, Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill. These three bills replace the colonial-era laws, including IPC, 1860, CrPC, 1898 and Evidence Act, 1872 respectively. Notably, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, tabling the bill in the Lower House, said that this bill will replace 'Rajdroha' with 'Deshdroha,' signaling an end to the much-dreaded Section 124A of the IPC, also known as the sedition law. Shah said that, under the new law, anyone can criticise the government and not be imprisoned. However, he warned that in the new law if anyone criticises the country, they "will not be spared."

The law was first applied in 1897 by the British government against Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who was critical of the Raj's mishandling of the epidemic in Maharashta. Even Mahatma Gandhi had been imprisoned under this law. Even after Independence, this law was unjustly used against activists, cartoonists, journalists and anyone who had been critical of the government and its policies. Last year, the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement, froze all provisions of the Sedition act till the time the government comes up with an updated law. The SC further ordered the release of all individuals, who have been imprisoned under this law and directed all officials to refrain arresting anyone under Sedition.

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Under Section 150 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, the word 'sedition' is omitted.  It reads: "Whoever, purposely or knowingly, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or by electronic communication or by use of financial means, or otherwise, excites or attempts to excite, secession or armed rebellion or subversive activities, or encourages feelings of separatist activities or endangers sovereignty or unity and integrity of India; or indulges in or commits any such act shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine."

Section 150 of the Nyaya Sanhita is more comprehensive and adds "secession", "armed rebellion", "subversive activities" and “separatist activities".
 

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Published December 20th, 2023 at 17:58 IST