Anti-India sloganeering by JNU students amounts to sedition? Yes and No.


About two weeks ago, Delhi Police filed sedition charges against JNU Students (including the President of the JNU Student’s Union – Kanhaiya Kumar who was then arrested; other charges were slapped on to him too).

Reasons to consider JNU students’ action as sedition

Sedition in India is defined by a) Indian Penal code (IPC) AND b) Supreme court ruling. Now if one only considers the IPC (Section 124), “Sedition” is defined as any action, whether by words, signs or visible representation, which brings hatred or contempt or excites or attempts to bring dissatisfaction towards the govt established by law in India. From this perspective, anyone involved in anti-India slogans can “possibly” be charged with sedition (though it’s a different matter that, none of the videos clearly tell us who exactly chanted anti India slogans anyway; the one that was run by channels such as Times Now and Zee News, appears be doctored now; which is a shame).

Reasons to NOT consider JNU students’ action as sedition

As mentioned above, sedition is defined by both IPC AND Supreme Court rulings. A look at some of the earlier rulings makes it clear that sedition charges are unlikely to hold its ground in this particular case.


1. Kedar Nath Vs. State of Bihar : Supreme court clarified that strong words which are intended to express disapproval of actions of government, without any call for violence are not an act of sedition and that IPC’s wordings cannot be interpreted literally. The two essential ingredients required to establish the crime of sedition under IPC are:

  1. the acts complained of must be intended to have the “effect of subverting the Government” by violent means; and
  2. the acts complained of must be intended, or have a tendency, to create disorder or disturbance of public peace/ law and order by resort to violence and must incite violence.

Keeping aside the authenticity of the video which shows few students from JNU chanting anti-India slogans, a) there is still no direct appeal to / use of violence and b) a small congregation of students chanting anti-India slogans can possibly not have any detrimental effect on law & order.

2. Balwant Singh Vs. State of Punjab is another example. Slogans like “Khalistan Zindaba”,”Raj Karega Khalsa (only the believer shall rule)”, and “Hinduan nun Punjab chon kadh ke Chhadane, hun mauka aya hai raj kayam karan da (we will drive Hindus out of Punjab; now is the chance to establish our rule)” had been made. But the court upheld that these slogans did not amount to sedition since they didn’t lead to any type of violence whatsoever.

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Edited by Amrit Vatsa


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