Cops do flip-flop on sedition charge yet again

ByRohit K Singh and Saurabh Chauhan
Dec 18, 2019 01:11 AM IST

Four days after 616 anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors were slapped with sedition (section 124A of the IPC) and other charges in Lucknow, the police did an about turn on Tuesday and dropped the sedition charge against them.

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HT Image

Of the 616 protestors, police on Tuesday arrested Aziz-ur-Rehman aka Khalid, who is Lucknow district vice president of AIMIM, in connection with the protest. However, the cops dropped the sedition charge against him as well as the others and claimed that it was a ‘clerical’ mistake.

On December 13, police had booked more than 600 people, including 16 named persons, for protesting against new citizenship law in Thakurganj area here. A case was filed on the complaint of policemen on duty in the area. As per the cops, they heard some “desh-virodhi” (anti-national) slogans and so the protestors were slapped with the sedition charge.

Additional superintendent of police Vikas Chandra Tripathi said, “Sedition charge was slapped against the protestors by mistake. The munshi (clerk) added section 124A (sedition) in the FIR and it was removed later as per the September 2016 Supreme Court guidelines on sedition charges.”

Similar protests occurred at Nadwa college in Lucknow on Sunday night and Monday morning and the FIR contained similar allegation -- that the students shouted ‘anti-government slogans’. However, the police did not slap sedition charge against the students, but booked them under charges of attempt to murder, rioting, unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation besides other sections of Indian penal code (IPC).

Experts as well as rights activists termed the sedition law as a tool used by the government to suppress voices of dissent. “It has been seen in many cases sedition charge is imposed even on unconfirmed statements and later removed clandestinely,” said Madhu Garg of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA).

She added that the sedition law is often used as a tool to suppress the movements and protests against the government.

Lucknow-based senior advocate IB Singh said, “The sedition law, I feel, should be invoked against those inciting violence, not protesters. The police should refrain from adding section 124A blatantly as charge-sheet is never filed in most such cases.”

As per the report of National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) for 2017, Uttar Pradesh registered the only sedition case in that year, of total 51 across the country.


This is not the first time that section 124 A has been dropped either by the cops themselves or by court. There are many instances:

Aug 2019: Sixty persons were booked under sedition charge for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan slogans during a clash at Salehnagar village, under ASHIANA POLICE station limits in Lucknow. The charge was later dropped after investigation.

March 2019: A Bulandshahr court dropped sedition charge against 38 people accused of violence in Bulandshahr in which two persons were killed, including a police inspector.

Feb 2019: Police dropped sedition charge slapped against 14 Aligarh Muslim University students after protests on the campus. The sedition charge was slapped on the complaint of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) district president Mukesh Lodhi who had alleged that he was assaulted by some students who chanted pro-Pakistan slogans.

Nov 2018: An FIR under sedition and rioting charges was lodged against a group of Muslims at TALKATORA POLICE STATION IN LUCKNOW for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans. The sedition charge was later dropped during investigation.


“Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”

(This is a British era law. However in September 2016, the Supreme Court had set certain guidelines for slapping the law against people).

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