1. ‘Plans under way on creation of Integrated Battle Groups’
Army has identified formations to be converted: Gen. Pande
The Army has identified a holding formation on the Western front and a Strike formation on the Northern borders to be converted into agile Integrated Battle Groups (IBG), Army chief Gen. Manoj Pande said while stating that consultations are complete and is now in the process of final compilation.
“The purpose of restructuring our existing formations into integrated battle groups was to have forces which are lean, agile and tailor-made which would afford the commanders the flexibility and more options for their employment in the respective theatres to achieve the desired outcomes. To that extent we have identified a holding formation on the Western front and a Strike formation on the Northern borders for the IBGisation to commence,” Gen. Pande said in an interaction with a group of presspersons on Monday.
These consultations with all stakeholders we have more or less formalised and it is now in the process of final compilation, he said adding, once this happens they will see as to how this can be taken forward and apply to perhaps other formations in the Army.
The concept of IBG has already been test-bedded by the Army’s 9 Corps and was later validated by the 17 Mountain Strike Corps in its exercises.
As reported by The Hindu earlier, each IBG would be tailor made based on Threat, Terrain and Task and resources will be allotted based on the three T’s. The idea is for them to be light with centralised logistics and be able to mobilise within 12 -48 hrs based on the location.
While a Command is the largest static formation of the Army spread across a defined geography, a Corps is the largest mobile formation. Typically, each Corps has about three Divisions. The idea is to reorganise them into IBGs which are Brigade sized units but have all the essential elements like infantry, armoured, artillery and air defence embedded together. The IBGs will also be defence and offensive in nature.
After the terrorist attack on Parliament in 2001, the Indian military undertook massive mobilisation but the Army’s formations which were deep inside took weeks to mobilise losing the element of surprise. Following this, the Army formulated a proactive doctrine known as ‘Cold Start’ to launch swift offensive, but its existence was denied in the past.
2. ‘Govt. can’t speak on Parliament’s behalf’
During sedition hearing, lawyers remind Centre that Section 124 A reconsideration entails legislation
The government’s affidavit asking the Supreme Court to keep the sedition case pending during the reconsideration of the colonial law is at odds with a Constitution Bench judgment which held that the government cannot speak for or make promises to the court on behalf of Parliament.
While the Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said it “respects the government’s word”, Justice Surya Kant, speaking from the Bench, made it a point to observe that “the government cannot give guarantees on behalf of the Parliament”.
Arguments were made in court that a “reconsideration” of Section 124A would entail the legislative process. The Supreme Court cannot give the Parliament a deadline to complete the process. Neither can the government promise the Supreme Court a specific outcome from the Parliament. The Parliament stands alone and independent in its domain of law-making. Then how can the government, through an affidavit, ask the Supreme Court to halt its constitutional duty to examine the constitutionality of Section 124A?
“The deponents of the affidavits filed in court may speak for the parties on whose behalf they swear to the statement. They do not speak for the Parliament. No one may speak for the Parliament and Parliament is never before the court,” the Constitution Bench had held in the Sanjeev Coke Manufacturing Company versus Bharat Coking Coal Limited case in 1982.
The judgment held that the court was the only “authentic voice” which may echo or interpret Parliament’s voice once a statute leaves the Parliament House.
“Validity of a legislation is not to be judged merely by affidavits filed on behalf of the State, but by all the relevant circumstances which the court may ultimately find and more especially by what may be gathered from what the legislature has itself said,” the Constitution Bench had stressed.
Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, who drew the attention of the top court to the Sanjeev Coke judgment, said there was a “pattern” to the filing of such affidavits by the government side.
“When the Puttuswamy case (privacy) was about to be closed, the government filed a memo in the Supreme Court saying the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee has been formed to look into the issues. In the marital rape case before the Delhi High Court, the government said it is reconsidering the law…” Mr. Sankaranarayanan submitted amidst objections from Solicitor- General Tushar Mehta.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal said the court could not wait merely because there was an “intention” to reconsider the sedition provision, the doing of which may take six months to a year. “The legislature makes laws. It is for you [Supreme Court] to decide whether a law is constitutional or not,” he said.
History of Sedition Law in India
- 1837 – Thomas Macaulay (Famous for his Macaulay Minute on Indian Education 1835) drafted the Penal Code in 1837.
- Sedition was placed in the Penal Code 1837 as Section 113.
- Later, it was omitted, to only be readded in 1870 back in the Penal Code by an amendment introduced by Sir James Stephen.
- British Raj in India had introduced this section on sedition under the title “Exciting Disaffection”.
- IPC Amendment Act of 1898 – It made amendments to the changes brought through the Penal Code in 1870.
- The current Section 124A is said to be similar to the amendments made to it in 1898 with few omissions made in 1937, 1948, 1950, and by Part B States (Law) Act, 1951.
Section 124A of IPC – Sedition
The IPC Section 124 A says, “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India shall be punished with [imprisonment for life], to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
What is Disaffection towards Government?
Disaffection includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.
What does not constitute an offence under Sedition?
- When comments disapprove of government measures but with a view to alter them lawfully i.e. ‘Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the Government with a view to obtaining their alteration by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection.’
- When comments disapprove of government’s administrative actions without exciting all feelings of enmity – Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection.
Punishment for the Sedition Offence
- It is a non-bailable offence.
- Imprisonment up to three years to a life term, to which fine may be added.
- The person found guilty of this offence is not eligible for any government job.
Cases Related to Sedition Law in India
- Queen Empress v Jogendra Chunder Bose (1891)
- Jugendra Bose wrote an article criticizing the Age of Consent Act, 1891.
- His criticism was taken as disobedience towards the government.
- However, later the case was dropped after he was released on bail.
- Sedition Trial of Lokmanya Tilak (1897)
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak has published the reports of the celebration followed by an 1894 paper on the Maratha king Shivaji by Professor R. P. Karkaria. Karkaria presented his paper to Bombay’s Royal Asiatic Society in 1894. This paper led to the annual celebration of the Shivaji Coronation. Later, Tilak published the celebrations’ reports.
- Tilak reported these celebrations as “Shivaji’s Utterances” in his dailies – Kesari and Mahratta.
- The case was presided by Justice Arthur Strachey.
- This sedition trial is historically famous as in this case, an attempt to excite feelings of enmity against the government was also brought under the scope of Section 124A terming it is seditious. Hence, it widened the understanding of Section 124A.
- Tilak was sentenced to 18 months of rigorous imprisonment.
- Sedition Trial of Lokmanya Tilak (1908)
- Tilak published two Kesari articles, titled “The Country’s Misfortune” which he published on 12th May 1908 and “These Remedies Are Not Lasting” which was published on 9th June 1908.
- Under the newly drafted Section 124A, he was sentenced to six years of imprisonment in Burma (Now, Myanmar).
- Sedition Trial of Mahatma Gandhi (1922)
- Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned for six years for his articles in his newspaper, ‘Young India’.
- The charges imposed on him were – “Bringing or attempting to excite disaffection towards His Majesty’s Government established by law in British India”
- Mahatma Gandhi termed Section 124A as “Prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.”
Source: News Articles
Post-Independence – Supreme Court Decisions
- Brij Bhushan And Another vs The State Of Delhi (1950) & Romesh Thappar vs the State of Madras (1950)
- The apex court held that a law that restricts speech on the ground that it would disturb public order was unconstitutional.
- The decision of the court prompted the ‘First Constitution Amendment’, where Article 19 (2) was rewritten to replace “undermining the security of the State” with “in the interest of public order”
- Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar (1962)
- The constitutional validity of Section 124A was put to a test in this case.
- A member of a Forward Bloc had given a speech which was charged as sedition.
- The Supreme Court held:
- “Speech or writing to which “subverting the government by violent means” is implicit—including the notion of “revolution”—is seditious.”
- A failed attempt to incite too is counted as sedition.
- It was seditious to create public disorder.
- No “unreasonable distinction” between criticism of the government’s measures and criticism of the government itself was drawn.
- Balwant Singh vs State of Punjab (1962)
- Balwant Singh who was the Director of Public Instructions (DPI) in Punjab, Chandigarh among other two, was alleged to have shouted pro-Khalistan slogans on the day of former PM Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
- The apex court held that unless there is public disorder merely sloganeering can’t attract punishment under Section 124 A.
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