Assam has recorded 54 sedition cases between 2014-2019, highest in the country, a Union Home Ministry data revealed.
The state contributed to at least 16 per cent of the total 326 cases that were registered in the country under the controversial colonial-era penal law. Nationally, out of these cases, charge sheets were filed in 141 cases while just six people were convicted for the offence during the six-year period.
Section 124(A) of the Indian Penal Code defines sedition as act bringing into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government of India through words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise and is a non-bailable offense punishable with imprisonment and fine.
The Union Ministry data revealed out of the 54 sedition cases registered in Assam, charge sheets were filed in 26 cases and trials were completed in 25 cases. However, there hadn’t been any convictions in the state.
Several belonging from the minority community were booked in Assam for sedition following the surgical strikes in Pakistan by Indian army in retaliation to the Kashmir Uri attack in 2016 for allegedly supporting the neighbouring hostile country.
Assam is closely followed by Jharkhand that registered 40 cases, Haryana 31 cases and Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala 25 cases each under sedition.
While, Jharkhand had chargesheeted only 29 cases and completed trials of 16 cases, Haryana chargesheeted 19 and completed trials in 6 cases only. Both the states had convicted just one person each.
While Bihar and Kerala could not file a charge sheet in any of the cases, Jammu and Kashmir filed a charge sheet in three cases. However, no one was convicted in any of the three states between 2014 and 2019.
No sedition case was filed in states and UTs of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli in the six years.
According to the home ministry data, 2019 saw the highest number of 93 sedition cases registered in the country, followed by 70 in 2018, 51 in 2017, 47 in 2014, 35 in 2016 and 30 in 2015. While 40 charge sheets were filed in the country in 2019 under the sedition law, 38 were filed in 2018, 27 in 2017, 16 in 2016, 14 in 2014 and six in 2015.
The Supreme Court last week observed that Section 124 (A) has been enormously misused and asked the Centre why it was not repealing the provision used by the British to “silence” people like Mahatma Gandhi to suppress the freedom movement.
On July 15, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana agreed to examine the pleas filed by the Editors Guild of India and a former major general challenging the Constitutionality of Section 124A (sedition) in the IPC.