As per National Crime Records Bureau of India's recently released Crime, 93 cases of sedition were filed in 2019, an increase of 165 per cent from 35 cases in 2016. The number of UAPA cases filed has increased to 1226, a 33 per cent increase against 2016.
Retd. Justice Madan B Lokur, a former Supreme Court judge said, "State is using an iron hand to curb free speech, which I think is an overreaction to people's expression of opinion," while addressing a virtual discussion organized by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) and Swaraj Abhiyan.
"Suddenly you have a lot of cases charging people with sedition. They charge common citizens who say something with sedition law," he added.
This high handedness of the police and investigative authorities violates Section 124A IPC, which deals with sedition
"On March 6, a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari declined to entertain a plea seeking guidelines for registration of criminal cases for sedition. The petition referred to an incident in Karnataka where a sedition case was framed against a few in charge of a school for staging a play. Many such cases have been filed across the country in recent times. Some of them relate to putting up banners or raising political slogans," says Adv Kaleeswaram Raj, lawyer, Supreme Court of India in an article for The New Indian Express. He is also of the opinion that the law, a colonial provision, must be repealed to avoid misuse.
"The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 (UAPA) was developed as an anti-terrorism law to prevent such unlawful activities association and maintain the sovereignty and integrity of India. Throughout the years it has been amended for effective application and to serve the primary intent of the act," explains the legal new portal, Jurist. But contrary to the primary intentions, the new amendments to the UAPA enable exploitation.
However, human rights activist says that these laws have been used to stem the voices against the governments in power since it enacted these laws.