NEW: The home ministry on Wednesday said statewise data received by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on ‘sedition’ cases filed under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code during the period 2014-18, does not reveal any “clear trend”. This was in reply to a pinpointed query in the Rajya Sabha as to whether there were increasing instances of misuse of sedition law, particularly to muzzle the voices of dissent.
On another query as to whether the government was mulling scrapping the “colonial-era” sedition law, minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy only replied that “amendment of laws is an ongoing process”.
As per NCRB reports on ‘Crime in India’, 47 ‘sedition’ cases were filed under Section 124A of IPC in 2014, 30 in 2015, 35 in 2016, 51 in 2017 and 70 in 2018. State-wise breakup shows Jharkhand and Assam together reported 50% of the cases in 2018, Assam and Haryana together accounted for around 63% of the cases in 2017, while Bihar and West Bengal reported 36.6% of the cases in 2015.
“Sedition has been defined in Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). ‘Public Order’ and ‘Police’ are State subjects as per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. The responsibility of maintaining law and order, including investigation, registration and prosecution of crimes, protection of life and property, etc., rests primarily with the respective state government,” said Reddy.
However, he added that NCRB reports on “Crime in India” relating to the period 2014-18, showed no clear trend in the statewise data on sedition cases.