Amid an on-going political debate over sedition law in the wake of controversy at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) last month, the Opposition in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday demanded the law be “scrapped”. On the other hand, the government favoured comprehensive review of the said law by the Law Commission, even as it acknowledged that the definition of Sedition law is “very wide”.
As the members of Upper House debated on the definition and the legal provisions under sedition law, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh agreed for an all-party meeting to discuss the issue after the Law Commission submits its report.
The BJP-led central government, however, rejected the charges made by the Opposition that it was rampantly using the law.
Apprising the house, MoS Home Kiren Rijiju said except one case of JNU, sedition cases have mostly been registered outside Delhi, referring to the cases filed against Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.
“Anbody, who speaks against the government can be booked under sedition law. Amendments have been suggested because the definition is very wide…there are various cases. That is why concerns were have been raised,” Kiren Rijiju said in replying to questions.
The MoS Home also told that the Law Commission, in its 42nd report, had noted that the sedition law is “defective” but did not favour its deletion.
Seeking to know if those engaged in “communal divide” will also be brought under the ambit of sedition law after review, leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said given the wide definition of the sedition law, as pointed out by the minister, “half of the parties of the country will be anti-national if there is a ban on speaking against the government”.
“The sedition law needs to be revisited. You take action against those who raise slogans against the country. But even more dangerous are those, who are engaged in carrying out communal divide. Will this also come under the new sedition law,” the Congress leader said adding that of sedition was never talked about in past in the manner it has been discussed for last few days.
Senior parliamentarian and JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav too said the law be “scrapped” as it was made by the Britishers during the colonial times.
Meanwhile, Home minister Rajnath Singh expressed agreement with Azad’s contention for tough action against those fanning communal divide.
“We are in cent percent agreement with the view of the Leader of Opposition that there should be tough action against those creating communal divide. Standing in this House, I appeal to all state governments to take tough action against those trying to wage communal divides,” the Home Minister said.
Raising the debate further, CPI leader D Raja sought to know “what is the justification of slapping sedition charge against Kanhaiya Kumar (JNUSU president) and other students. We are demanding the scrapping of the sedition law. I am asking the Home Minister to answer this question directly. What is the justification of slapping sedition charges against the students”.
Intervening, Kiren Rijiju told that the matter involving JNU is “sub-judice and there is already a case going on.”
(With inputs from the PTI)