NGO moves SC to challenge ‘misuse’ of sedition law against activists

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 18, 2016 00:32 IST
Demonstrators shout slogans as they hold placards during a protest over the JNU sedition row, in New Delhi. (Virendra Singh Gosain/HT File Photo)

Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan’s NGO Common Cause and anti-nuclear activist SP Uday Kumar have moved the Supreme Court asking it to lay down guidelines to stop increasing misuse of sedition law in the country.

The petition, filed on Wednesday, comes a day after a sedition case was registered against Amnesty International India after one of its employees allegedly shouted anti-India slogans during an event on Kashmir in Bengaluru.

Misuse of the draconian law came under criticism after Gujarat police slapped sedition charges against Patel community leader Hardik Patel and Delhi Police booked JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar under the same law after he allegedly raised slogans against the hanging of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru.

Quoting official statistics, the petitioners revealed that in 2014, 58 persons were arrested and 47 cases of sedition were registered across the country. The plea submitted that there has been a spurt in the number of sedition cases against intellectuals, activists and students.

The petition said that despite an Apex Court ruling stating sedition should be invoked only in cases involving incitement to violence, the police are booking people under the section to instil fear and scuttle dissent. “This is in complete violation of the scope of the constitution bench judgement,” it said.

“In the various cases that have been filed in the recent years, the charges of sedition against the accused have failed to stand up to judicial scrutiny,” the petitioners claimed. Of the 58 persons arrested two years ago only one was convicted, the petitioners claimed.

“The petitioner is therefore seeking a strict compliance of the Constitutional Bench judgment of SC in which the scope of sedition as a penal offence was laid down and it was held that the gist of the offence of sedition is ‘incitement to violence’ or the “tendency or the intention to create public disorder’,” the petition said.

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