Two days after Bengaluru police registered an FIR on charges of sedition against representatives of Amnesty International India on an ABVP complaint, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi stepped in, reflecting the unease in the party over the development. Rahul got in touch with Digvijaya Singh, the AICC in-charge of Cong-ruled Karnataka, who then conveyed to CM Siddaramaiah that a case of sedition was not made out.
Singh spoke to the Chief Minister, who assured him that “no arrests would be made pending investigation”.
“It is obligatory on the part of the police to file an FIR if there is a complaint. Even if you want to file an FIR against the PM, you can do that. But then the preliminary enquiry is held. In this case, there is no question of any sedition charge,” Singh told The Indian Express.
Singh confirmed that he got a “message” from Rahul inquiring about the development. He also said there was a need to review the sedition clause in the IPC.
Later, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi too said there was no ingredient of sedition that can be made out on the basis of the ABVP complaint.
“FIR does not mean that there is a crime established by the state. FIR is only an information by somebody who has shouted and forced registration of a FIR…There is no chargesheet, no closure on that basis… There are three Supreme Court judgments which said unless there are overt acts or direct incitement to disaffection or anti-security, anti-India incitement there is no sedition,” Singhvi said.
“How can there be a sedition case against a whole body (Amnesty) in a blanket manner. Amnesty organised the seminar. Somebody shouts something there… there is nothing else,” he said.
A Congress leader said: “Anybody can file any complaint. The police should have held a preliminary enquiry… it should have done due diligence.” He, however, argued that the Siddaramaiah government cannot be blamed.
Former Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said: “Amnesty is concerned with human rights and they have the right to hear the grievances of the people. That itself and mere sloganeering will not amount to sedition. I think the state government should not invoke the provision of sedition. The provision cannot be used so recklessly…just because ABVP wants sedition it cannot be done. This is the latest trend after the BJP came to power..they want all the dissenting voices to be silenced.”
AICC General Secretary B K Hariprasad too echoed similar views.