Constituent Assembly debates on sedition: Part 1

The Daily Guardian

In this piece, continuing with my discussion on sedition from the last three pieces, I will examine the Constituent Assembly debates on sedition to understand if the very concept of sedition was opposed by the framers of the Constitution or at least a majority of them. Broadly, the debates on the subject may be divided into two parts- the first before the Draft Constitution was presented to the Constituent Assembly on February 21, 1948 by the Drafting Committee, and the second after the Draft Constitution was taken up for debates by the Assembly from November 15, 1948.

On April 29, 1947, when the Interim Report on Fundamental Rights was taken up for discussion by the Assembly, Shri Somnath Lahiri brought up the issue of the relationship between the guarantee of fundamental rights and the broad nature of the restrictions sought to be imposed on them which, he feared, would have the effect of taking away everything that was guaranteed. Lahiri also challenged the need for and the breadth of the restriction on free speech based on sedition.

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