Section 153A of the IPC

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Source-This post on Section 153A of the IPC is based on the article “No S.153A IPC Offence Without Presence Of Two Or More Communities’ : Supreme Court Quashes Case Against Journalist” published in “Live law” on 21st March 2024.

Why in the News?

The Supreme Court clarified that for an act to be considered an offense under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, it must cause animosity and discord between two or more groups or communities.

What is Section 153A of the IPC?

Section 153A of the IPC
Source- Moneycontrol

1. About– Section 153A of the IPC aims to penalize individuals who promote hostility between different groups based on factors like religion, caste, race, place of birth or residence, or language.

2. Accountability– The provision holds accountable those who
a. Spread hate through words (spoken or written), images, or signs to stir up discord, animosity, or unrest among people of different groups, religions, castes, or communities.
b. Spread disharmony and disturb the public tranquility of the people belonging to different racial and religious groups.
c. Assist in arranging activities that promote and train participants to use criminal force and violence against people of different racial and religious backgrounds.
d. This section also includes offenses involving moral wrongdoing.

3. Punishment:
a. The offense is cognizable offense and can lead to up to three years in prison, a fine, or both.
b. If the offense happens in a place of worship, the punishment can increase to five years in prison and a fine.
c. Additionally, under Section 153A, the offense is non-bailable, and the accused is tried by a first-class magistrate.

Note– A cognizable offense allows a police officer to investigate and make an arrest without needing a magistrate’s order or a warrant.

4. Low conviction rate issue- According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the conviction rate for Section 153A is notably low.

5. Safeguards against misuse:
a. Sections 153A and 153B need government approval before starting prosecution. This approval is necessary before the trial, not during the initial investigation.
b. To limit arbitrary arrests, the Supreme Court set guidelines in 2014 in the case of Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar.
c. According to these guidelines, for crimes with sentences less than seven years, the police cannot arrest someone automatically before investigating.

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