The BJP led government in Maharashtra has invoked colonial era sedition clause 124-A of the IPC (Indian Penal Code). As per the circular, “by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, dissatisfaction and provoking violence against the central or the state government.”
Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code covers sedition. The section had originally been inserted into the Code by the Indian Penal Code Amendment Act, 1898, enacted by the Imperial Legislative Council.
These provisions are a part of new guidelines issued to Police by the state government. The opposition has slammed the government as they apprehend if the section could muzzle free speech.
As per the report in The Economic Times, former chief minister Ashok Chavan described the government resolution as highly objectionable and said he has sought legal opinion to challenge it. “We will see to it that the rights of the people are not curtailed. This is the state’s attempt to gag people, which is against the Constitution and democracy,” said Chavan.
The guidelines were issued on August 27 after an assurance was given in the High Court that the government would come out with a circular indicating limitations and parameters of the 124-A.
The Bombay high court, while dropping the sedition charge against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi had asked the government to issue guidelines to police on how to invoke the sedition clause.
The government has clarified that sedition will not be invoked against those trying to bring change in the government through legal means without hatred and contempt.
Even former cop turned lawyer slammed the government’s decision of invoking the law and termed it draconian. He said though the circular asks police officers to take the legal opinion of the district legal officer and the public prosecutor before filing a case, these safeguards were not enough because the government could have the police book anyone who criticises it.
Earlier Maharashtra Govt. came up with Maharashtara: Government Amends Law; No FIR Against Politicians Without Approval