Editorial

2016-2019: There Was An Increase Of 160 % In Cases Under Sedition Law. But Conviction Was Only 3%

In the last few years, as the British sedition law was being used to suppress political voices ofr protest, it gave rise to nationwide outrage over the misuse of the law. 

The top court, hearing the constitutionality of this law, had requested the central government to review the law. 

Later, the central government has agreed to review this law. In fact, many governments have misused the law to curb expressions like raising slogans in Indo-Pak matches, reciting Hanuman Chalisa, posting on social media and making memes. 

After all, when the country is celebrating the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav it is necessary that the law used to threaten freedom fighters should review. 

However, the central government agreed to review the sedition law. But it is hard to say how long this will be. On Wednesday, the top court raised hope that something positive will happen in this direction. The court said that till the time the Central Government reviews the sedition law, no fresh FIR should be registered under it. 

At the same time, in the cases which are going on under this law, no action should be taken now. Also those who are in jail under this law can appeal to the court for their bail. 

The hearing in this regard will now take place in the third week of July in the order of petitions challenging the constitutional recognition of the sedition law. 

However, the central government has changed its previous attitude by promising to review the law. 

Earlier, in the affidavit given in the top court, the central government was saying that the decision given in the famous 1962 Kedarnath vs State of Bihar case was sufficient, In which the scope of this sedition law was reduced. But despite this, there was no significant change in the behavior of the police-administration.

In fact, regarding the misuse of this law, people believe that it is common for criticism in political dialogue under a democratic system. 

It is part of the democratic process. The expression and dignity of every citizen should also be protected. In such a situation, it is ironic for a law punishing citizens under colonial rule to exist even after seven decades of independence. 

It is difficult to say whether the central government will review or abolish some of the provisions of this law. 

However, some positive results will definitely emerge from this exercise. Actually, the provisions of punishment in this law are quite strict. 

Under this, there is a provision of imprisonment from three years to life. who incites dissent against the Government by way of oral expression, written statement or visible form under section 124A of the Indian penal code may be invoked in an attempt to spread hatred or contempt. 

It has been classified as a non-bailable offence. By the way, the top court had said in the famous Kedarnath case of 1962 that the intention to create disorder or such, this law can be used only in the case of disruption of law and order and promoting violence. 

But the governments have been abusing the law fiercely for the sake of power. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, between 2016 and 2019, there was an increase of 160 per cent in cases registered under this law but conviction was only three per cent. 

It is natural to ask that when such a large number of arrests were made, describing the matter as serious, then why so few people got the punishment? 

Clearly, matters were escalated due to political bias. It does not send a good message in the international world in the matter of civil liberties. 

There is a need to sensitize and accountable the police-administration in this matter, who often misuse the law under pressure from the political leadership. 

However, effective laws are necessary to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the country from external threats. 

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