326 cases of sedition in 5 years shows misuse of law: SC observestext_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court had observed that the offence of sedition in the Indian Constitution is being misused. The court questioned the union government on why this provision is not being repealed.
Backing its concerns, the Supreme Court stated that 326 cases of sedition were registered in the country between 2014 and 2019. Charge sheets were filed in only 141 cases and only six were ever convicted.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana, on July 15, agreed to examine the pleas filed by the Editors Guild of India challenging the Constitutionality of Section 124A (sedition) in the IPC.
Assam has the highest number, 54 of sedition offences registered. Among these, only 26 cases had charge sheets filed, and trials were completed in 25. However, there has not been a single conviction.
40 cases were registered in Jharkhand, out of which 29 cases had charge sheets filed. 16 cases completed trials and only one person was convicted. The trend continued in Haryana where 31 cases were registered. Charge sheets were filed in 19, and six cases completed the trial. Only one person was convicted in the state.
Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, and Kerala have registered 25 cases each. Bihar and Kerala did not have any charge sheets filed, Jammu and Kashmir had charge sheets in three cases. But no one was convicted.
22 sedition cases were filed in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. Karnataka police filed a charge sheet in 17 cases and one case completed the trial. But no one was convicted. UP police filed charge sheets in eight cases and no one was convicted.
No sedition case was filed in states and UTs of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli from 2014-2019.
The top court pointed out that the offence of sedition was designed by the British colonists to "silence" freedom fighters of India. The highest number of sedition cases, 93, was filed in 2019. The bench said that it is concerned about the misuse of the law and the rising number of cases.
The court stated that the offence of sedition is a colonial-era law and asked: "Is it still necessary to keep this in statute even after 75 years of independence?"
The offence of sedition is non-bailable. The provision makes any speech or expression that brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India a criminal offence punishable with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.