India’s highest court suspends use of controversial sedition law

The colonial-era law will be put on hold until the government completes a review, the Supreme Court said. No more cases should be registered under the law until the review is complete, she added, in an apparent rebuke to the government.

Those currently arrested under the law can apply for bail if they are in prison solely for sedition, Rashmi Singh, a lawyer representing the petitioners, told CNN.

This week, India’s federal government told the Supreme Court that it was willing to re-examine the law after a series of petitions were filed in the High Court, challenging it and accusing the government of misusing it. .

“It is a great thing and we hope that when the reconsideration passes they will say that it is a law from the colonial era,” he said. “This is definitely a positive move in the direction of repealing the sedition law.”

The law, which was introduced by the British colonial government in 1860, prohibits “words spoken or written, or by visible signs or representations” intended to cause “hatred or contempt, or incite or attempt to incite discontent” towards the government. . A person convicted of sedition can be jailed for more than three years.

Pundits have accused India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using the law to silence activists, journalists and other critics. India has seen an increase in its implementation since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP came to power in 2014.

In 2015, 30 people were charged with sedition, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). In 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, that number rose to 73.

In January, Rohinton Nariman, a former Indian Supreme Court justice, criticized how sedition laws are being used.

He said youth, students and comedians were being targeted for criticizing the government while others were getting away with calling for genocide against Muslims, referring to comments made during a three-day event in the city of Haridwar in December when just Wing Hindus called on their followers to kill Muslims.

Add Comment