The Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) stated that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled states have dished out most of the sedition cases under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) since it started collecting data in 2014. Their observation is as per data collected from the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
As per the NCRB, a total of 326 sedition cases were registered across the country from 2014 to 2019 that saw the arrest of 559 people. A state-wise break-up revealed that the highest number of sedition cases (54) was registered in Assam, followed by Jharkhand (40), Haryana (35), Karnataka (30), Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir and Kerala (25 each), and Uttar Pradesh (17). Further, there has been a 98 percent increase in sedition cases from 2014 (47 cases) to 2019 (98 cases).
Suhas Chakma, the Director of the RRAG, stated, “The data collated by the NCRB does not appear to reflect the actual number of sedition cases filed in the country. For example, the NCRB data stated that only 19 sedition cases were filed in Jharkhand during 2017 (1 case) and 2018 (18 cases). On the contrary, the Jharkhand Police had filed 30 FIRs/cases against around 200 named accused and more than 10,000 unnamed people involved in the Pathalgadi movement of 2017-18.”
As per the NCRB, the rate of conviction for sedition offenses from 2015 to 2019 was 8.92% i.e. in five out of 56 cases, against the conviction rate for overall cognizable offenses under IPC of 48.58% during the same period.
The absurdity, as well as the abuse of the sedition law, stands proven from the charges faced by then Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley following an order by a Judicial Magistrate, for an article authored by him on 18 October 2015. In this article, he had taken a critical stand on a judgment rendered by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India.
Adding more Chakma said, “Complaints of sedition are mostly filed by private individuals who claim as nationalists, or members or affiliates of mostly the ruling parties whether at the Centre or State level, against their real or perceived opponents, whether political or ideological and dissenters in a democracy.”
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