CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat has demanded that sedition charge (IPC 124 A) should be removed from the Indian Penal Code and the section 66 A of the IT Act be amended to protect the freedom of speech in social media.
In an article in CPI (M) mouthpiece Deshabhimani on Thursday, Karat said as long as section 124 A continues in the Indian Penal Code, it (the sedition charge) would be used for wrong purposes. The IT act should be amended to prevent the suppression of social media and protect the freedom of expression in internet.
Recently, Kerala police has slapped sedition charge on a youth named M Salman, after he failed to stand up while the national anthem was being played in a movie theatre. Five others were also facing case in this regard. The district sessions court had rejected his bail application last week.
Referring to the arrest of Salman, Karat said this was the latest incident of the heinous use of this cruel law (sedition). It’s noteworthy to mention here that soon after Salman’s arrest, the CPI (M) daily, in an editorial, had justified the police action, saying the action against the youth was above criticism.
Karat said Nehru had stated in 1951 that ‘as far as I am concerned that particular section (124-A) is highly objectionable and obnoxious and it should not have no place in any body of law that we might pass. The sooner we get rid of it the better.’
Karat said even though the first prime minister of the country openly stated that the sedition charge should not find a place in any body of law, the section 12-A continues as part of the Indian Penal Code.
This particular section has been used against thousands of people in the post-independent decades. However, no Congress rule or successive governments have done anything to remove this heinous section from the law.
He said recently there were several instance indicating the misuse of this section. The police and the governments have been repeatedly misusing the section after slapping sedition charge against those who express criticism and opposing political views against the government or power centres. Those who do not express solidarity with the official version of nationalism are being dubbed as anti-nationals and charged with treason.
Karat said the sedition charge is being used as a tool to foist a dictatorial concept about nationalism, and as a weapon against political criticism and freedom of expression. This is part of infringement upon democratic rights and civil liberties, said Karat.