Will Govt Repeal Sedition Law, Asks Cong Citing Disha Case in Parl
“The latest manifestation of misuse of this law is the Disha Ravi case,” Congress MP Manish Tewari said,
Citing the recent and controversial arrest of Bengaluru-based 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi, opposition Congress on Tuesday asked the Narendra Modi government if it will dilute the sedition law on the floor of Parliament.
Ravi was arrested for sedition by Delhi Police on 13 February for sharing a ‘toolkit’ or an online document informing about the ongoing farmers agitation and the social media campaign in support of that.
Granting her bail on 23 February, a Delhi court found that there was no evidence linking Disha with any secessionist idea or call for violence.
In fact, the judgment had noted, “The offense of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of the governments.”
What Did Tiwari Say?
Speaking on the same on Tuesday, Manish Tewari, Congress MP asked that given the convictions are so low will the government bring an amendment which further narrows down scope of application of sedition.
“The latest manifestation of misuse of this law is the Disha Ravi case. The minister should read the judgment which makes it very obvious that the Delhi Police absolutely and miserably failed to produce any evidence linked to the charge of sedition.”Manish Tiwari
He asked that given the law is misused as demonstrated by your figures, “Will the government further narrow down the scope of the application of Section 124A?”
Hitting back at the Congress, Minister of State of Home Affairs, G Kishan Reddy, said the Congress does not have the right to speak on misuse of laws.
“The less Congress speaks of misuse, the better it is. You jailed JP Narayan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani & others by misusing MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act). Congress has no right to speak on democracy,” he retorted.
Reddy added that the Congress had “jailed so many people in 1980 under TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act). You jailed journalists, students, politicians under MISA.”
Supporting her party colleague, New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi, went on to defend the Delhi Police saying that the case has not yet reached its conclusion.
She added that the matter is still under probe and no allegation of misuse of the sedition law can be established.
Congress MP Seeks Clarification on Sedition
The issue had come up in light of Anumula Revanth Reddy, Congress MP from Telangana asking for further clarification from the government on a question he asked on the subject of sedition law.
He also raised concerns about the sedition case being slapped against anybody like Disha Ravi for questioning government policies and supporting the farmers agitation against the three contentious laws.
He insisted that the government gives details of sedition cases filed against activists and journalists in light of Republic Day protests and asked if there is any mechanism adopted to drop those cases.
Citing the low conviction rate, he argued that politically motivated cases have been registered since 2014 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi coming to power. He asked if the government is planning to bring in a law so that charges like these can be dropped if a chargesheet is not filed in these cases within a span of one year.
Congress Hid Sedition Numbers: Reddy
In reply, MoS Reddy, said that it was only after they came to power that they are giving separate records of sedition as before all crimes were clubbed under Indian Penal Code. “You (Congress) people used to hide the sedition cases within IPC cases only,” he said.
- He also listed out the number of cases and stated that even the respective state governments only file these cases given police matters come under state government.
- In 2014- out of 47 cases, only 1 conviction
- 2015- 30 cases, 0 convictions
- 2016- 35 cases, 1 conviction
- 2017- 51 cases, 1 conviction
- 2018- 70 cases, 2 convictions
- 2019- 93 cases, 1 conviction
The MoS continued to state that Delhi Police which comes under the union government has not filed any high number of seditions.
The Congress MP had initially asked a starred question about details of cases registered under sedition in the country in the last 10 years and the rate of connection for them. He also asked if the government has taken any measures for speedy trial of cases and if the government plans to scrap any provisions of sedition.
The MoS in reply, said that ‘Public Order’ and ‘Police’ are State subjects as per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India and laid out data of the National Crime Records Bureau (which is updated till 2019). He further said that the amendment of criminal law is a “continuous process”.
(This story was first published on The News Minute and has been republished here with permission.)
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