Of the 399 cases of sedition (Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code) were registered in India between 2014 and 2020, convictions were granted in eight, Union Home Ministry data shows.
Further, charge sheets have been filed in only 40% of these cases (163), data analysed by CNN-News18 shows.
Section 124A says that “whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added…”
The Ministry data presented in the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session shows that of the 399 cases, 36 were reported from the Union Territories of Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir, while the remaining were from the states.
The cases registered across the country annually under the law have jumped by over 55% – from 47 in 2014 to 73 in 2020.
In 2019, 93 cases were registered – highest during the period. Between 2015 and 2019, the annual cases were rising consistently.
ASSAM ON TOP
Among the states, Assam has reported the highest number of cases during the period – 66. It was followed by Jharkhand (40), Karnataka (38) and Haryana (37).
Delhi has recorded nine such cases, while Odisha and Tamil Nadu have recorded eight cases from 2014 to 2020. Telangana has recorded six cases, while Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh each have registered five cases.
The states that have recorded less than five sedition cases were Gujarat (3), Goa (3), and Andhra Pradesh (3). On the other hand, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Punjab and Arunachal Pradesh have registered just one case each.
UNTOUCHED SINCE 1955
Section 124A, introduced in the late 1800, was amended for the first time in 1898, and thereafter underwent multiple changes in 1937, 1948, 1950, 1951 and 1955. It has been left untouched post 1955.
It carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment and the police can arrest individuals without a warrant.
The controversial colonial-era sedition law was put on hold by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The Apex Court has stayed all proceedings in the sedition cases.
It directed the Centre and state governments to not register any fresh first information report (FIR) invoking sedition charges until the government re-examines the law. It also said that all pending cases, appeals and proceedings with respect to charges framed for sedition should be kept in abeyance.