Art and Indian Copyright Law: A Statutory Reading

A look at how the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, as amended in 2012, interacts with art (other than films and sound recordings), and, in particular, with Indian art. The first part of this text comprises a feminist and post-colonial reading of the Indian copyright statute while later parts focus on interpreting the provisions of the statute in relation to art.

19 August 2016

The History of Sedition Law

A post by me over at The Quint which argues that historical injustice caused by Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code which deals with sedition does not provide adequate reason to advocate the repeal of the provision today (particularly in the absence of contemporary data supporting the case for repeal):

Sedition Law A Relic of the Past, But Can’t be Repealed At Will

Oddly enough, although sedition made an appearance in an early draft of Macaulay's penal code for India, it was absent in the 1860 Indian Penal Code. Case law, specifically Queen-Empress vs Jogendra Chunder Bose and Ors., 1891, appears to suggest that Macaulay simply forgot about it, and that when it was finally introduced by the British a decade later, it enabled India to escape the harsher punishments mandated by England's common law in relation to treason. (This, incidentally, is not the only time when the enactment of Indian law enabled the erstwhile colony to circumvent the law of the 'parent' country: a similar situation emerged in relation to the copyright translation right.)

Today, of course, one of the arguments often used against IPC Section 124A is that it is a colonial law which is still often misused. Allegations of rampant misuse are, however, made on the basis of anecdata and occasional reportage, not on the basis of data. There simply doesn't appear to be a convincing argument to support the proposal of legal/policy change in the absence hard data although, unfortunately, it is not just in relation to sedition that this has been done: a great deal of contemporary public discourse on policy issues (ranging from criticism of IPC Section 498A to the importance of free speech) has been in the bereft of hard data.

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