The number of sedition cases registered across the country doubled from 35 in 2016 to 70 in 2018, according to latest data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The data shows that Jammu and Kashmir saw a sharp spike in sedition cases in 2018, with 12 cases compared to just one in 2017. The state was split into two Union Territories last year.
Jharkhand topped the list of states in sedition cases with 18 while Assam topped the list of offenders with 27 persons booked in 17 cases. Apart from Jharkhand, Assam and J&K, Kerala (9) and Manipur (4) are the other two states in the top five that year.
In 2017, 51 sedition cases were lodged. In 2018, sedition made almost 50 percent of all cases lodged under various sections related to “offences against the state”.
The spike in sedition cases comes at a time when cases lodged under other sections linked to “offences against the state” showed a decline in 2018 — 178 (2016), 160 (2017), 149 (2018). Similarly, offences registered under IPC sections 121, 121A, 122 & 123, dealing with waging war against the nation, have also registered a decline — from 143 in 2016 to 109 in 2017 and 79 in 2018.
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Along with sedition, offences falling under special and local laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Official Secrets Act (OSA) have registered a rise. In 2017, 901 offences under UAPA were registered, which rose to 1,182 in 2018. Similarly, only 18 cases were registered in 2017 under the OSA, which doubled to 40 in 2018.
Under UAPA, the highest number of offences was registered by Assam (308) followed by Manipur (289), J&K (245) and Jharkhand (137). In 2017, the maximum number of such cases was registered by Manipur (330), followed by J&K (156) and UP (109).
Under the OSA, Maharashtra registered the highest number of cases (16), followed by UP (7) and Punjab (5) in 2018. In 2017, the maximum number of such cases was registered by Rajasthan (4), followed by UP (3).
The 2018 report of the NCRB has been delayed by at least six months after the 2017 edition was stalled by more than a year on the various grounds: the bureau had added new data; many states had not provided proper data; many states had not replied to clarifications sought.
Even the latest report states that some states, such as Bihar and West Bengal, have not replied to clarifications sought by NCRB and that their data is “provisional”.
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