Plea in SC over alleged misuse of sedition law

New Delhi, Aug 17 (PTI) A plea was filed in the SupremeCourt today over alleged misuse of penal law on sedition bythe Centre and various states, claiming that students, scribesand intellectuals involved in social activities were beingprosecuted on a "routine" basis. The petition, which is likely to come up for hearing nextweek, sought the apex court’s intervention to address the"misuse" of section 124 A (sedition) of the IPC contendingthat such a charge was being framed with a view to "instillfear and scuttle dissent". "There has been an increase in the number of cases ofsedition against intellectuals, activists, students, with thelatest being the sedition charge on Amnesty India fororganising a debate on Kashmir," the plea, filed by NGO CommonCause, said. "In this regard, a petition has been filed to address themisuse and misapplication of Section 124A (sedition law) bythe Centre and various State Governments leading to routinepersecution of students, journalists and intellectuals engagedin social activism. It is submitted that these charges areframed with a view to instill fear and to scuttle dissent,"the plea, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, said. Acting on a complaint by the ABVP on Saturday, Bengalurupolice had slapped sedition charges against AmnestyInternational India after an event it had organised onallegations of human rights violations and denial of justicein Jammu and Kashmir. Referring to the report of National Crime Records Bureau,the plea said that 47 cases of sedition were filed in 2014alone and 58 persons arrested in connection with these cases,but the government has managed only one conviction. It cited a series of recent examples of activists beingslapped with sedition charges, including Arundhati Roy in 2010for alleged anti-India remarks at an event in Kashmir,cartoonist Aseem Trivedi in 2012 for allegedly insulting thecountry through his cartoons, doctor and human rights activistBinayak Sen, JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar and DU professor SA R Geelani. The plea sought a direction that either Director Generalof Police or Commissioner of Police be asked to give a reportbefore registration of an FIR for the offence ofsedition that the act has led to violence or there was anintent on the part of the accused to create public disorder. It also sought a direction that the investigations andprosecutions be dropped in cases where such a reasoned orderis not provided and the act in question involved peacefulexpression or assembly. The constitutional validity of section 124 A rests uponeither an intention to create public disorder or incitement ofviolence, it said. PTI AG SJK ABA RKSARC

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