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Government, opposition spar over sedition cases in Lok Sabha | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Opposition Congress and the government on Tuesday engaged in a war of words in Lok Sabha over sedition cases with the opposition party alleging the stringent law is being misused, drawing a sharp retort from Union minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy, who shot back saying Congress should lecture others on democracy.
During the Question Hour, Congress member from Telangana Anumula Revanth Reddy sought the number of cases registered under the offence of sedition across the country during the last 10 years, the conviction rate and the steps taken for their speedy trial. The focus of his question was on climate activist Disha Ravi who was arrested in the farmer protest toolkit case and was later granted bail, and cases registered against farmer union leaders after the January 26 violence in the national capital.
Reddy tabled a written response to the question in the House. The minister said 47 cases of sedition were registered in 2014; 30 in 2015; 35 in 2016; 51 in 2017; 70 in 2018 and 93 in 2019. “There is no direct involvement of the Centre in sedition cases,” he said.
However, Anumula was not satisfied with the response. He said he had sought details for 10 years, but the information was provided only from 2014-2019. “Giving half information is taking the House in the wrong direction,” he said.
He added that after 2014, anyone who criticises the government’s policy, the person is charged with sedition. “In 2019, the conviction rate (for sedition) was 3.3 per cent. This means these are politically motivated cases. If a youth leader is booked for sedition and the cases drags for 4-5 year, he/she is not in a position, they won’t get a job, passport, visa. Activists like Disha Ravi are charged, but they are not able to prove anything in the court,” Anumala said.
He asked whether there is a proposal to drop the “false charges” against farmer union leaders protesting against the three farm laws.
In response, the minister said the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data is based on the information received from all the states.
Attacking Congress, the minister said, “the member (Anumala) asked as to why the information was not provided before 2014. In case of sedition cases, when Congress was in power it did not maintain any separate data on this. They clubbed it with all the IPC crimes,” he said, adding that after the Modi government took charge, it started presenting a separate data on the sedition charges. “…After the rise of social media, after the media awareness…they also give big speeches on democracy. But even after that the cases of sedition are very less,” the minister said.
Another Congress member Manish Tewari also asked similar questions. He said Section 124A of the IPC which deals with sedition was being misused and used to suppress freedom of expression.
Hitting back, the minister said Congress need not lecture on misuse as it had used the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) against opposition leaders such as Jayaprakash Narayan and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Anumala and Tewari also asked whether the government was planning to narrow the scope of sedition. The minister said a committee on Criminal Law Reforms under the chairmanship of the vice-chancellor, National Law University, Delhi was formed in February 2020.
Home minister Amit Shah has written to chief ministers of all states, judicial officers, various varsities and law universities, law institutes seeking suggestions on the proposed amendments. After the report is prepared, it will be discussed in Parliament, the minister added.

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