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Government May Strike Down Sedition Law, Awaits Report from Panel

The Union government informed Parliament that it had already asked the Law Commission to study its usage.

Published: 02nd March 2016 03:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd March 2016 04:22 AM   |  A+A-

JNU Protest 4

JNU students shout slogans during their protest against the arresting of JNU student union leader Kanhaiya Kumar in New Delhi | Express photo by Shekhar Yadav

NEW DELHI: Amid the raging debate over the misuse of the age-old sedition law in the country, the Union government on Tuesday informed Parliament that it had already asked the Law Commission to study its usage. In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhury said that on December 11, 2014, “The Law Commission has intimated that they have identified certain focus areas and formed sub-groups to deliberate on such areas.”

The Ministry of Law and Justice has asked the Law Commission to study the usage of Section 124A (Sedition) of the IPC.

JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, currently in jail, were booked under this law. Their arrest has triggered an all-out political war between the government and the opposition.

While the accused are alleged to have raised anti-national slogans at an event in JNU, critics against the archaic law have accused the government of misusing it and argued that their actions do not strictly amount to sedition.

Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, who has raised concerns over misuse of the sedition law, has said, “Unfortunately, the mentality of people is, anything said against the government is sedition... to my mind, the mere raising of slogans is not sedition.”

Sedition charges have also been recently slapped against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury over the JNU row.

Umar, Anirban now in judicial custody

Two JNU students — Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya — facing sedition charges were on Tuesday sent to 14 days in judicial custody after police said they do not require their custodial interrogation in the case. They were grilled for six days. The two were shifted to Lodhi Colony Special Cell office from South Campus Police station after the case was transferred to the anti-terror unit.



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