ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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How Democracy 'Uses' a Colonial Law

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) has continually critiqued the existence of the colonial law of sedition and its unconstitutional application at the behest of those who hold state power. The arrest of S A R Geelani of University of Delhi on charges of sedition on 16 February 2016 is yet again a case of the misuse of law as part of political vendetta. Geelani had been booked under Sections 124A (sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 149 (unlawful assembly) on 12 February, in relation to the raising of “anti-national” slogans at an event organised in the Press Club in New Delhi on 10 February. There was no complaint—the police registered the case after taking suo motu cognisance of the media clips of the event.

It needs to be recalled that the use of sedition against Muslims in general and Kashmiris in particular is not sporadic. In March 2014, the police had registered a case of sedition against 67 Kashmiri students of Meerut’s Swami Vivekanand Subharti University (SVSU) under pressure from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers for cheering Pakistan’s victory in a cricket match. In November 2014, 10 schoolgoing boys in the Kushinagar District of Uttar Pradesh were charged for sedition, when they wore T-shirts of the Pakistani cricket team during a Muharram procession. In the past, there have been popular demands to prosecute figures like Arundhati Roy and Prashant Bhushan under the section on sedition for voicing their opinion in support of a plebiscite in Kashmir.

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