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Freedom of speech and expression is not an absolute right as it has restrictions attached to it. One of the justifications for restricting freedom of speech and expression is sedition, which however, is not recognised as a restriction. The connotation of sedition is significantly different across the globe. In English law, the term “sedition” has had varied degrees of significance, as 150 years ago holding a meeting or taking out a procession was considered Sedition. In Roman times, the term “sedition” came from the Latin word “sedition,” which meant insurrectionary schism (military or political), civil unrest, insurgency, or mutiny. It should be emphasised that though the term “sedition” does not occur anywhere in the Indian constitution but under Article 19 it is envisaged as a crime against the state, however, in the Indian Penal Code it is considered as a state-sponsored crime though not specifically stated as such. In India’s current discernment, sedition refers to any act, whether verbal, physical, or written, that is believed to disrupt the state’s tranquilly and incite uninformed people to defame the government. Against this background it is pertinent to understand the law of sedition in different countries specifically in relation to pre-constitution rulings; regarding speech; publication; voting; statutory law; privileges and fundamental rights; non-fundamental rights issues; solutions to avoid conflicts and the complementary role of this chapter also elaborates upon the Sedition laws of countries like ‘USA’, ‘Australia’ and ‘England’.
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Section 3 of the Act stipulated that:
If any person whatsoever shall, within the United Kingdom or without, compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend to deprive or depose our Most Gracious Lady the Queen, from the style, honour, or royal name of the imperial crown of the United Kingdom, or of any other of her Majesty’s dominions and countries, or to levy war against her Majesty, within any part of the United Kingdom, in order by force or constraint to compel her to change her measures or counsels, or in order to put any force or constraint upon or in order to intimidate or overawe both Houses or either House of Parliament, or to move or stir any foreigner or stranger with force to invade the United Kingdom or any other of her Majesty’s dominions or countries under the obeisance of her Majesty, and such compassings, imaginations, inventions, devices, or intentions, or any of them, shall express, utter, or declare, by publishing any printing or writing or by any overt act or deed, every person so offending shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable to be transported beyond the seas for the term of his or her natural life.
Queen Emperor v. Jogendur Chandra Bose (1892) 19 ILR Cal 35.
http://archive.org/stream/onlawofsedition00dono#page/2/mode/2up (last visited on January 19, 2017 at 3:32 PM).
Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, National Law School of India University, Bangalore and Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore, Sedition Laws and Death of Free Speech in India, available at: https://www.nls.ac.in/resources/csseip/Files/SeditionLaws_cover_Final.pdf (last visited on May 23, 2018 at 7:46 PM).
Section 2 of the Sedition Act, 1798 defines sedition as: To write, print, utter or publish, or cause it to be done, or assist in it, any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the United States, or either House of Congress, or the President, with intent to defame, or bring either into contempt or disrepute, or to excite against either the hatred of the people of the United States, or to stir up sedition, or to excite unlawful combinations against the government, or to resist it, or to aid or encourage hostile designs of foreign nations.
This Act was a set of amendments to enlarge Espionage Act, 1917.
249 U.S. 47 (1919).
250 U.S. 616 (1919).
341 U.S. 494 (1951).
354 U.S. 298 (1957).
376 U.S. 254, 273–76 (1964).
395 U.S. 444 (1969).
274 U.S. 357 (1927).
Royal Commission on Australia’s Security and Intelligence Agencies, Report on the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (1985) cited in Australian Law Reform Commission, Report on Fighting Words: A Review of Sedition Laws in India (July 2006).
77 Eng. Rep. 250 (K.B. 1606).
R v. Sullivan (1868) 11 Cox C.C. 44 at p. 45 cited in United Kingdom Law Commission, Codification of the Criminal Law: Treason, Sedition and Allied Offences, Working Paper no. 72, available at: http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/No.072-Codification-of-the-Criminal-Law-Treason-Sedition-and-Allied-Offences.pdf.
 2 D.L.R.369.
European Convention on Human Rights, 1950, 213 UNTS 221.
Criminal libel and Sedition Offences Abolished, Press Gazette (Jan. 13, 2010).
Section 73: Abolition of common law libel offences etc.
The following offences under the common law of England and Wales and the common law of Northern Ireland are abolished:
(a) the offences of sedition and seditious libel;
(b) the offence of defamatory libel;
(c) the offence of obscene libel.
Liberty’s Report Stage Briefing and Amendments on the Coroners and Justice Bill in the House of Commons (March 2009) available at: https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/sites/default/files/liberty-s-coroners-and-justice-report-briefing-excluding-secret-inquests-.pdf (last visited on June 5, 2018 at 6:23 PM).
go back to reference Dr. Hari Singh Gour, Penal Law of India, vol. 2, 11th edn., Law Publishers (India) Pvt. Ltd., Allahabad, 2011, p. 1232. Dr. Hari Singh Gour, Penal Law of India, vol. 2, 11th edn., Law Publishers (India) Pvt. Ltd., Allahabad, 2011, p. 1232.
go back to reference Arvind Ganachari, Nationalism and Social Reform in a Colonial Situation (Kalpaz, 2005). available at: https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/3356419 (last visited on May 12, 2018 at 3:23 PM). Arvind Ganachari, Nationalism and Social Reform in a Colonial Situation (Kalpaz, 2005). available at: https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/3356419 (last visited on May 12, 2018 at 3:23 PM).
go back to reference W.R. Donogh, A Treatise on the Law of Sedition and Cognate Offences in British India (Thacker, Spink and Co., Calcutta, 1911). W.R. Donogh, A Treatise on the Law of Sedition and Cognate Offences in British India (Thacker, Spink and Co., Calcutta, 1911).
go back to reference K.I. Vibhute, P.S.A. Pillai’s Criminal Law 335 (Lexis Nexis Butterworths, Nagpur, 2012). K.I. Vibhute, P.S.A. Pillai’s Criminal Law 335 (Lexis Nexis Butterworths, Nagpur, 2012).
go back to reference Judith S. Koffler and Bennett L. Gershman, New Seditious Libel 69 Cornell L. Rev. 816 (1984). Judith S. Koffler and Bennett L. Gershman, New Seditious Libel 69 Cornell L. Rev. 816 (1984).
go back to reference English PEN, A Briefing on the Abolition of Seditious Libel and Criminal Libel (2009). English PEN, A Briefing on the Abolition of Seditious Libel and Criminal Libel (2009).
go back to reference William T. Mayton, Seditious Libel and the Lost Guarantee of a Freedom of Speech 84 Colum. L. Rev. 91 (1984). William T. Mayton, Seditious Libel and the Lost Guarantee of a Freedom of Speech 84 Colum. L. Rev. 91 (1984).
- Analysis of Laws in Different Countries on Sedition
- Copyright Year
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