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1. Sedition

1.1. Understanding Sedition - Brief Introduction

  • What is Sedition - As per Section 124A of IPC, Sedition is an act that brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise. As per this Section, a person is liable to be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment up to three years with fine.

  • Concerns regarding Sedition – Relevance of this Section in a democratic and independent nation is a matter of continuous debate. Use of Section 124A by the government might go beyond the reasonable restrictions provided under fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression as per Article 19 of the Constitution. There is an apprehension that this Section might be misused by government of the day to suppress political dissent, constructive criticism of government and its policies thereby stifling democratic governance.

  • The countries like UK, Australia have already abolished sedition laws considering them draconian.

1.2. Historical Background: Colonial Relic

  • Origin and evolution - The legitimacy of British colonial governance system rested on silencing any kind of political dissent or dissatisfaction thus the right to freedom of speech and expression of individuals was suppressed through imposition of Section 124A. Section 124A IPC added through Special Act XVII of 1870, defined Sedition and 1898 amendment made it a punishable offense. Various leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak have been punished under this.

  • Post Constitutional Journey and Sedition vis-a-vis Article 19 of the Indian Constitution - Various verdicts by Indian Judiciary have led to re-interpretation and re-examination of ‘sedition’ in light of Article 19 of the Constitution in order to strike a balance between right to free speech and expression and power of State to impose reasonable restrictions (Article 19(2)). These verdicts have led to narrowing the ambit of ‘Sedition’ making its meaning more explicit, precise and unambiguous.

  • Essential ingredients for a seditious act - Various verdicts in RomeshThappar case, Kedar Nath Singh case, Kanahiya Kumar case re-defined a seditious act only if it had essential ingredients as:

  • Disruption of public order

  • Attempt to violently overthrow a lawful government

  • Threatening the security of State or of public.

  • Judicial verdicts in defense of Right to freedom of speech and expression - The judicial pronouncements in cases like AK Gopalan vs State of Madras, Ramesh Singh vs Union of India, Shreya Singhal vs State elaborated ‘what does not tantamount to sedition’:

  • Political dissent

  • A thought non-consonant with the government and its policies

  • Expression of frustration over the state of affairs e.g. racist state or gender biased state

  • Expressing different or conflicting ideas of Indian nation

  • Right to offend

  • Peaceful protest

1.3. Sedition vis-a-vis other Statutes

  • Several sections of IPC deal with offenses against State as well as against public tranquility. Another act named Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1971 has been enacted to prevent terrorist activities.

  • Since sedition is an offense against the State, higher standards of proof must be applied to convict a person for this offense. It must be invoked for gravest of offenses against State. If the same doesn’t fall within the ambit of seditious act, it might attract provisions of some other laws/statutes as mentioned above.


​Way Forward

  • Dissent acts as a safety valve in a vibrant democracy and every restriction on free speech and liberty must be carefully imposed weighing its reasonableness.

  • If the country is not open to positive criticism, there lies little difference between the pre- and post-independence eras

  • Debates and discussion with respect to essential questions like need of sedition law in a modern democratic society vis-vis freedom of speech, redefining sedition etc. needs to be started among the legal luminaries, lawmakers, Government, NGOs, academia, students and above all, the general public.

2. Punjab’s Sacrilege Law

2.1. Provisions of the amendment

  • It will introduce a new section 295AA in IPC.

  • It proposes life imprisonment for whosoever cause injury, damage or sacrilege to four religious texts, that is the Guru Grant Sahib, the Quran, the Bhagwat Geeta and the Bible.

  • Aims to promote social harmony and public order.

2.2. Criticism

  • Punishment of life imprisonment is disproportionate. Further, already Section 295A of IPC exists which criminalizes 'deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings’. Under it, the scope of punishment is 3 years with or without fine.

  • Sacrilege is vague which makes the law too vast and liable for misuse.

  • Curbs freedom of speech. Also, there is a fear that we are increasingly becoming a society governed by criminal law taking away substance of our fundamental rights.

  • The article defiles the sacredness of the Book because the status of the Book now becomes an artefact of state power. In other words, rather than being luminous, potent and transcendent texts, their status is now reduced to a section of the Indian Penal Code.

  • Punjab’s sacrilege legislation is akin to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which have led to the ascendance of theocracy and religious violence in Pakistan. State interfering in the religious matters is inconsistent with idea of secular India.

Way forward

  • Supreme Court has upheld the Constitutional validity of section 295A in 1957 as an instrument to punish aggravated insults to religion, with the intention to ‘disrupt public order’ which is well within the purview of reasonable restrictions provided under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution. Going beyond Section 295A can prove to be a double-edged sword. It needs comprehensive debate before it is amended.

3. Family Law Reforms


  • The ministry of law and justice made a reference to the Law Commission of India on June 2016 to examine matters in relation to the Uniform civil code.

  • The aim was not to identify an identical procedure for all but to correct the gender discriminatory nature of family laws across religions.

  • In the absence of a consensus on a uniform civil code, the best way forward for India may be to preserve the diversity of personal laws while ensuring that they do not contradict the fundamental rights.

  • It pointed out that the prevailing personal laws place women at a disadvantaged position.

  • The report deals with four key issues: marriage and divorce, custody and guardianship, adoption and maintenance, and succession and inheritance.

What is Uniform Civil Code?

  • A Uniform Civil Code essentially means a common set of laws governing personal matters for all citizens of the country, irrespective of religion.

  • Currently, different laws regulate these aspects for adherents of different religions.


  • Age of consent for marriage: It advocates for change in the age of consent for marriage, opining that the current difference of 18 years for girls and 21 years of age for boys simply contributes to the stereotype that wives must be younger than their husbands.

  • Marriage and Divorce o Grounds for divorce (No-fault Divorce): It refers to a situation where the emotional and other bonds, which are the essence of marriage, have disappeared and only a façade remains.

  • The commission suggested that where a marriage has ceased to exist both in substance and in reality, divorce should be seen as a solution rather than a taboo.

  • Community of Property upon Divorce and Maintenance: It recommends that a no-fault divorce must accompany community of self-acquired property, owing to the fact that women are usually left in a vulnerable position while allowing for immediate and unilateral divorce.

  • Rights of Differently-Abled Persons in Marriage: The paper recommends amendments to exclude from grounds for divorce, forms of illnesses that can be cured or controlled with adequate medical treatment or counselling.

  • Special Marriage Act: It calls for modification of the 30 day notice period for registration of marriage, in view of the misuse of the provision to discourage an inter-caste or an inter-religion marriage.

  • Custody and Guardianship: Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 to be amended to the extent that a husband is not regarded as the guardian of the wife, and both the parents equally share responsibility of the child born from such wedlock

  • Adoption and Maintenance: Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is inadequate in addressing the jurisprudential questions on adoption. It then strongly suggests the use of the term ‘parents’ in place of ‘mother and father’ in adoption, to enable individuals of all gender identities to avail of the Act. o It also recommends that the word ‘child’ should replace son and daughter so as to ensure that intersex children are not excluded from being adopted.

  • The current law does not permit a male adult to adopt a female child. It is suggested that there should be a provision of adoption to a single parent irrespective of gender and gender identity of the child as well as the parent.

  • Succession and Inheritance. o It advocates for abolition of coparcenary and suggests that the right in a property by birth be extinguished by opting for ‘tenancy-in-common’ instead of ‘joint tenancy’.

  • Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) has also been suggested to be abolished, noting that the institution of HUF was being used for tax avoidance.

4. Wrongful Prosecution

4.1. Recommendations of LCI

  • ‘Wrongful prosecution’ to be the standards of miscarriage of justice, as against ‘wrongful conviction’ and ‘wrongful incarceration’: ‘Wrongful prosecution’ would include cases where the accused and not guilty of the offence, and the police and/or the prosecution engaged in some form of misconduct in investigating and/or prosecuting the person. It would include both the cases where the person spent time in prison as well as where he did not; and cases where the accused was found not guilty by the trial court or where the accused was convicted by one or more courts but was ultimately found to be not guilty by the Higher Court.

  • Need for a transparent legislative process: There needs to be an established legislative process, according a transparent, uniform, affordable, efficacious and timely remedy for the loss and harm inflicted on the victims on account of wrongful prosecution.

  • Designation of Special Courts in each district for adjudicating upon claims of compensation for wrongful prosecution. The cause for action would arise if there was malicious prosecution or prosecution without good faith and there was an acquittal.

  • Compensation, both pecuniary and non-pecuniary, to effectuate the rehabilitation of the victims into the society: While pecuniary assistance will be in terms of monetary award as may be determined by special court, non-pecuniary assistance will be awarded in the form of services such as counseling, mental health services, vocational/employment skills development, removal of disqualifications that might affect chances of accused persons finding employment in public and private sectors, admission into educational institutes, etc.

  • Factors to determine compensation: Compensation in such cases would depend upon various factors, including the seriousness of the offence, severity of punishment, the length of incarceration, loss or damage to health, psychological and emotional harm and the status of the victim in the society.

5. Proxy Voting By Nris


  • As of now, overseas Indians are free to cast their votes in the constituencies where they are registered. The Bill seeks to give them the option of proxy voting, which till now is only available to service personnel.

  • The proposal includes a provision that made it mandatory for NRIs to nominate a new person every time they vote in an election, unlike service personnel who are allowed to nominate a permanent proxy.

  • On the direction of the Supreme Court of India the Election Commission constituted a committee for ‘Exploring Feasibility of Alternative Options for voting by Overseas Electors’, which expressed the feasibility of both proxy voting and e-postal ballot.

  • It is not clear yet how NRIs will nominate their proxies. The Election Commission will lay down the procedure by amending the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, after the

  • Bill is passed by both Houses of Parliament.

  • The bill also proposes to replace the term 'wife' with 'spouse' (in case of service voters), thus making the Proxy voting in other countries UK - A British citizen living abroad can either travel back to vote in person or vote by post.

  • He/she can also nominate a proxy but this is subject to eligibility rules.

  • US - Expatriates can vote for federal office candidates in primary and general elections.

  • Once registered, an overseas American voter will receive a ballot paper by email, fax, or download, depending on the US state

5.1. Criticism of the Proxy Voting

  • Vulnerable nature of the process of using a proxy can amount to malpractices and misuse, like-

  • The proxy voters might not choose to cast their votes according to the will of the NRI who assigns the proxy.

  • The loss of secrecy while using the mechanism is a major drawback.

  • It might also lead to purchasing of the votes.

  • Implementational Challenges- Moreover, the Indian

  • Diaspora abroad is spread in different parts of the world, which will pose an implementation challenge when it comes to proxy voting. Further, the registration of NRI voters has been relatively lower than their number, so more important is to extend registration facilities.

  • Monetary Influence- Only the parties with sufficient financial resources will be able to roll out significant promotional campaigns abroad, which may tilt the balance of power against smaller, regional parties. Also, there is no adequate mechanism to track how much is spent by these parties outside India.

  • Discrimination against Domestic migrants- It might increase the discrimination amongst the migrants who still do not have the voting rights, and also amongst various categories of non-residents.


  • Along with the challenges and concerns related to proxy voting, it is also important to understand that NRIs are a large stratum of our population, large enough to not be overlooked.

  • Apart from that, history stands as a testimony to their contribution to Indian economy as well as India’s bilateral or multilateral agreements. Where on one hand they have an impact on India they are also in turn impacted by the events in the country. Thus, steps like proxy voting are considered.

  • There are various alternative ways to proxy voting, viz. Personal voting (setting up booth at the embassy itself), e-voting, etc.

  • If the Parliament gives its nod to proxy voting, there are various safeguards that it may follow like-

  • An NOC must be issued in advance by the NRI voter to the proxy and an e-vote or postal ballot must be casted to cross-verify the whole process.

  • Preparation of electoral roll and the database must be kept secretive to avoid any purchasing of votes.

6. Manipur People’s Protection Bill, 2018

6.1. Key features of Manipur People’s Protection Bill, 2018

What is Inner Line Permit (ILP)?

  • The ILP is a British-era system to regulate entry and exit of outsiders in a protected area.

  • It is operational in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.

  • The system requires outsiders to obtain a permit from the government to enter the designated territory.

  • It can be issued for travel purposes solely.

  • The main objective of the ILP system is to provide a special protection of the distinct identity and safeguard for the peaceful existence of the indigenous people of the state.

  • The bill seeks to "protect the identity of indigenous people" of the state from the influx of outsiders.

  • It defines “Manipuris” and “non-Manipuris” and seeks to regulate the entry and exit of the latter in order to protect the interests and identity of the former.

  • According to the Bill, Manipuris include the Meiteis, the Pangal Muslims, Manipuri scheduled tribes listed under the Constitution and Indian nationals who have been living in Manipur before 1951.

  • Those who didn’t fall under this umbrella were deemed “non-Manipuris” and were given a month to register themselves to the authorities.

  • For this Bill to become a reality, it requires a nod from the President of India.

6.2. Issues with the Bill

  • The Bill sets 1951 as the base year to identify locals and prevent an influx of outsiders. If approved by the Governor and made an Act, people who came to Manipur after 1951 would be viewed as “foreigners” and would have no voting or land rights

  • A 1951 cut-off was problematic for tribal communities as data of several villages in the National Register of Citizens, 1951, as well as in the Village Directory of 1951 is not available or not accurate – which, in turn, could render many tribals as non-state subjects

  • The state of Manipur was formed on January 21, 1972 and thus a number of stake holders wanted it to be the cutoff date.

  • The tribal protestors claimed an Inner Line Permit would serve only the interests of the Meiteis, and enable them to encroach upon the hills and tribal lands.

7. Varieties Of Democracy Report

7.1. Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem)

  • It is an international research project which aims to develop new indicators of democracy in all countries all over the world from 1789 to the present.

  • The project is led by the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

  • It covers 178 countries

  • It is backed by the European Union and funded by a multitude of different institutions (government and non-government) and think tanks.

  • Recently The Varieties of Democracy Report for 2018 (V-Dem) has been released which provides the most sweeping global examination of democracy.

7.2. Concerns regarding India

  • India is indicted as a "backslider" since the quality of democracy has declined over the past ten years and sharply declined since 2014

  • India retains a system of free, fair multi-party elections and thus, qualifies as an Electoral Democracy o But it has seen major erosion in indicators such as Freedom of Expression, Rule of Law and Freedom of Association.

7.3. Different Categories for Classification

  • Liberal Democracy: where every citizen has equal rights and access to the law; there's strong freedom of expression; good institutional systems to deliver justice, freedom of association, participatory elections, etc.

  • Electoral Democracy: Here citizens have the vote but certain categories of people such as women and poor suffer exclusion and lower standards apply when it comes to human rights, freedom of expression and association, etc.

  • Electoral Autocracy: where citizens have the vote but not much else. Repression, censorship and institutionalised intimidation are visible in such places.

  • Closed Autocracy: In a closed autocracy is totally free of being answerable to its people, and their rule is carried out with fear and intimidation.

August Indian Polity and Constitution

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