New Delhi: Government today acknowledged that the definition of Sedition law is “very wide” and said it is being reviewed by the Law Commission after members in Rajya Sabha demanded that it should be scrapped as it is a colonial legacy and a “relic”.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh agreed for an all-party meeting to discuss the issue after the Law Commission submits its report on the law which has come under focus in the wake of JNU controversy.
The government also rejected Opposition charge that it was rampantly using the law and pointed out that except the one case of JNU, sedition cases have mostly been registered outside Delhi.
“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. I would like the ask the Law Commission to consider a very comprehensive review,” Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said in replying to questions.
Rajnath Singh added that the “Law Commission is carrying out a review regarding this law. Our government has said that they should submit the report as soon as possible.”
Rijiju said the Law Commission, in its 42nd report, had noted that the sedition law is “defective” but did not favour its deletion. He said that in another report also, the Commission sought a change in the defintion of sedition but did not favour the scrapping of the law.
Asked whether any timeframe has been fixed for the Law Commission to submit its report, Rijiju said the Home Ministry has from time to time written to Ministry of Law and Justice to speed up the process.
Rejecting Opposition charge that the NDA government was rampantly using the law, Rijiju said, “It is registered in Telangana not Delhi”, alluding to the sedition case lodged against Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal.
Quoting figures from a report of National Crime Records Bureau, he said a total of 47 cases under the sedition law were reported across the country in 2014 of which the maximum 16 cases were registered in Bihar in which 28 arrests were made.
“The second highest is Jharkhand,” he said adding that Kerala and Odissa follow them in the descending order. He said that while the Opposition is directly accusing the government of taking action against the students, the fact is that some cases have also been registered against politicians.