Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Phrase ‘Anti-national’ not defined in statutes: MHA


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UAPA

Mains level: Anti-national activities

The phrase ‘anti-national’ has not been defined in statutes, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has informed the Parliament.

Defining Anti-national Activities

(1) Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act  

  • The UAPA is aimed at the prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
  • Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.

(2) Sedition Law

  • Section 124A IPC deals with attempts to bring into hatred or contempt or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India.
  • This law was enacted by the British colonial government in 1870 with the sole object of suppressing all voices of Indians critical of the government.

 (3) NCRB Reports

  • In 2019, when the National Crime Records Bureau released the annual Crime in India report for year 2017, it included for the first time a new chapter on “Crime Committed by Anti National Elements.”
  • The chapter listed – “North East insurgents, Left Wing Extremists and Terrorists (including Jihadi terrorists)” as the three anti-national elements.

Attempts for defining

  • There are criminal legislations and various judicial pronouncements deal with unlawful and subversive activities which are detrimental to the unity and integrity of the country.
  • In this regard, it is relevant to mention that the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 inserted in the Constitution Article 31D (during Emergency) which defined “anti-national activity”.
  • This Article 31D was, later, omitted by the 43rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1977.

Supreme Court guidelines

  • In the ultimate analysis, the judgment in Kedar Nath (1962) read down Section 124A and held that without incitement to violence or rebellion there is no sedition.
  • It says that ‘only when the words written or spoken etc. which have the pernicious tendency or intention of creating public disorder the law steps in.

Who maintains the data of such individuals?

  • The onus of maintenance of such data lies with the respective states.
  • ‘Public Order’ and ‘Police’ are State subjects as per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Hence the data about the number of people arrested for indulging in anti-national activities are not maintained centrally.


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