You cannot be booked for sedition for writing something about the government in a private chat, unless it leads to violence or exciting disaffection against the government.

Acts which are not sedition

Last updated on Jun 15, 2022

The following acts do not amount to sedition as they are protected by your right to freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution of India:

  • Any criticism of government policies and their actions.
  • Any criticism done in good faith against the Government.
  • Any criticism done to improve the functioning of the Government.

In other words, commenting in strong terms upon the measures or acts of Government or its agencies is not the same as disloyalty towards the Government. As long as the words used by a person do not lead to people feeling enmity and disloyalty towards the Government and public disorder or use of violence, it is not an act of sedition.(( Kedar Nath v. State of Bihar, A.I.R. 1962 S.C. 955.))

Example I:

  • If Amit draws a cartoon for a newspaper highlighting and ridiculing the corruption in the Government, it would not amount to sedition.(( Sanskar Marathe v. State of Maharashtra & Ors., 2015 (2) R.C.R. (Cr) 351.))
  • If a filmmaker makes a documentary on the violence of Jammu and Kashmir and critiques the Government actions in it, they would not be liable for sedition.

Example II:

  • If Bobby sticks posters in the public library to boycott the general elections to the Legislative assembly and writes “No vote for the masters who are exploiting people”, this does not amount to sedition.
  • If Rahul criticizes the government on his Facebook wall for not maintaining the roads in his area, and says bad things about the government, it would not amount to sedition.(( Balwant Singh v. State of Punjab, (1995) 3 S.C.C. 214.))
  • If Tanya expresses her anger against any administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite any hatred or violence, then it would not amount to sedition.

Example III:

  • If Raj gives a fiery speech at a stage rally about the ongoing injustice to a certain community, then his speeches won’t amount to sedition if they do not incite any violence or cause public disorder.(( Arup Bhuyan v. The State of Assam, (2011) 3 S.C.C. 377.))
  • If Ramu holds a slogan saying “I hate the Government, the Government is corrupt”, it is not an act of sedition. If the slogan had resulted in people hating the Government along with violence, then it would be an act of sedition.

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Related Resources

Meaning of Sedition

When anyone tries to bring hatred or contempt or excites disaffection towards the government, they have committed an act of sedition.

Sedition and Dissatisfaction towards the Government

An act is seditious if your act results in people feeling hatred or contempt towards the Government. A person commits sedition if they use either spoken or written words or gestures, aimed at encouraging people to disobey or resist the government.

Seditious Text

You have a right to write about the Government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comment, so long as you do not incite people to violence against the Government or don’t do with an intent of creating public disorder.

Punishment for Sedition

The punishment for sedition can be jail time upto 3 years and/or a fine, or jail time for life and/or a fine, or a fine.

Confiscation of Seditious Material

In a scenario where you are being charged for an act of sedition, every copy that exists of the newspaper, book or document which contains the seditious text or material can be taken away by the Government.

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