Chapter VI of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, deals with crimes against the state (Section 121 to Section 130). The goal of these rules is to maintain the overall safety of the state. The survival of the state can be protected by imposing harsh penalties on those who commit crimes against it, such as life imprisonment or the death sentence. Offences against the state and the government that disrupt public order, public peace, and national integration.
War is being waged
Waging war entails attempting to achieve any public goal by the use of violence. A civil war happens when a group of individuals band together against the government in order to acquire control of any public property by force and bloodshed. The goal and intention, not the murder or the attempted murder, are taken into account when determining if a crime against the state has occurred.
Waging War Against India’s Government
Warfare against the Government of India is dealt with under Sections 121 to 123 of the Code. The word ‘Government of India’ is used here in a much broader meaning, implying the Indian State that derives its right and power of authority from its people’s desire and agreement. In other words, while the State gets its authority from Public International Laws, it is vested in the people of the area and exercised by the representative government.
The following are regarded important elements of the offences under Section 121, as they must be shown in order to establish an offence of waging war against the Government of India:
The accused must possess the following:
Went to war; or attempted to go to war; or aided in the waging of war.
A fight like this must be waged against the state.
The penalty for violating this section is either life in prison or the death sentence. In some circumstances, a fine may be enforced.
The term ‘whoever’ is used in a wide meaning and does not refer just to those who owe allegiance to the existing government. Even the Supreme Court of India can’t decide whether foreign people who enter India’s territory with the intent of disrupting government operations and destabilising society should be prosecuted or not.
For example, in the case of the Mumbai Terror Attack, the appellant and other conspirators committed the first and most serious crime: waging war against the Indian government. Foreign nationals carried out the attack, which was directed at Indians and India. The goal of this attack was to inflame communal tensions, wreak havoc on the country’s finances, and, most crucially, force India to hand over Kashmir. As a result, the appellant was found guilty under Sections 121, 121A, and 122 of the Code.
War is being waged
The term “waging war” must be used in its broadest sense and can only imply “waging war” in the traditional sense. It excludes overt activities such as the gathering of personnel, guns, and ammunition. Inter-country conflict, which involves military actions between two or more nations, is not included in this form of war in the international sense.
Section 121 clarifies that “war” does not include “conventional combat between countries,” but it does mean “joining or organising an insurgency against the Government of India.” Waging war is a method of using violence to achieve any public goal.
In the event of waging war against the government, the motive and purpose are regarded to be the most crucial criteria to investigate. Murder and force are meaningless in such a battle.
Sedition and Aiding and Abetting War
Both are punishable with imprisonment, non-compoundable, and non-bailable offences. These offences are prosecutable in the Court of Session.
Sedition is dealt with in Section 124A of the IPC. The goal of this crime is to incite hate, contempt, or disaffection (including treason and a sense of animosity) against the Indian government.
Aiding and abetting the war is a unique form of crime. The fundamental goal of such incitement should inevitably be to wage war.
In the case of Najot Sandhu, for example, the appellant was a participant in the criminal conspiracy and was found to have aided and abetted the crime. He was a key player in a sequence of measures made to forward the conspiracy’s goals. As a result, the High Court’s decision was affirmed, and the appellant was found guilty under Section 121 of the IPC.
A War-Mongering Conspiracy
In 1870, the IPC was amended to include Section 121A. It states that any act or illegal omission does not have to occur explicitly in order to constitute a conspiracy.
This section discusses two different sorts of conspiracies:
Within or outside India, conspiring to commit an offence punishable under Section 121 of the Code.
Conspiring to overawe, that is, intimidating the government with criminal force or a mere display of criminal force.
This section carries a ten-year or life sentence, as well as a monetary fine. Both the federal and state governments have the authority to impose such sanctions.
The preparation of war is dealt with under Section 122 of the IPC. There is a distinction to be made between attempting to conduct the crime and preparing to do so. The following are the main points of this section:
Men, guns, and ammunition are gathered.
For such collection, there must be a desire to wage war or make preparations to wage war.
The accused must take part in the collecting process.
The fight must be fought against the Indian government.
The penalty for violating this section is either life in prison or ten years in jail plus a fine.
For example, if print material and other items are discovered in the accused’s chamber, they are not regarded as offensive or aggravating. As a result, under this Section, the accused cannot be found guilty.
Concealment of a Plan to Fight a War
The concealment of an intention to conduct war is covered under Section 123 of the IPC. The following are the main points of this section:
There must be a plan in place that is willing to wage war against the Indian government.
The concealment should be carried out with the goal of assisting the battle against the Indian government.
The individual should be aware of the design’s hiding.
This section carries a penalty of up to ten years in jail and a monetary fine.
In the case of the Parliament assault, for example, the accused possessed information about a conspiracy as well as a terrorist plot. As a result of his illegal omission, he was charged under Section 123 of the IPC.
Sedition is dealt with under Section 124A. Any individual who violates this section by:
Written or spoken words; signs; visible representations; or anything else;
Anyone who incites hate or disaffection (including feelings of animosity and disloyalty) against the Indian government, or even attempts to do so, faces the following penalties:
In certain situations, life imprisonment with a fine is possible; in others, up to three years in jail with a fine is possible; or a fine is possible.
Section 124A’s Constitutional Validity
Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution does not consider the provisions of this Section to be unconstitutional because they violate the basic right to freedom of speech and expression.
The first case to call into question the constitutionality of sedition was Ram Nandan v. State of Uttar Pradesh. The Allahabad High Court ruled that the Section restricted freedom of speech and was not in the public interest. As a result, this section was deemed to be in violation of the constitution. In the case of Kedar Nath Das v. State of Bihar, however, it was overturned. In this case, it was determined that this Section would only apply to conduct committed with the aim to disrupt law and order or to incite violence. As a result, the Supreme Court ruled that this section was unconstitutional.
India is the world’s largest democracy, and the right to freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental component of a democratic society. Sedition does not include merely expressing or thinking about government policies. As a result, several reform ideas have been offered over the years.
The Law Commission issued a number of recommendations in this regard:
The notion of abolishing this section was rejected by the 39th Law Commission Report in 1968.
The scope of the Section was urged to be increased in 1971, that is, in the 42nd Law Commission Report, to cover the Constitution, the legislature, the judiciary, and the government formed by law.
The Law Commission of India released a consultation document in August 2018 urging that Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with sedition, be repealed.
In a recent consultation paper, the Law Commission of India proposed using Section 124A to criminalise only acts done with the purpose to disrupt public order or toppling the government by violence and other unlawful methods.
As a result, it’s unlikely that the Section will be phased out any time soon. The Section should not, however, be abused.
Offences against the state are critical in preserving and managing public order. The citizens of the state have the right to criticise the government’s policies; nevertheless, they should not abuse their freedom to hurt others or the government. It is a
crime to wage war against India and against authority. In the event of an attack on a high official, such as the President, the Governor of each State, and others, the law protects them. Above all, sedition is regarded as one of the most serious criminal offences against the state. As a result, it may be stated that the state needs to limit the freedom of the people in order to improve the state.
- Rai, D., 2019. Offences Against the State: All you need to know about it – iPleaders. [online] iPleaders. Available at: <https://blog.ipleaders.in/offences-against-the-state-all-you-need-to-know-about-it/> [Accessed 29 November 2021].
- Aslam, M., n.d. Offence Against State Under Law Of Crimes. [online] Legalserviceindia.com. Available at: https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-2653-offence-against-state-under-law-of-crimes [Accessed 29 November 2021].