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Mainstream, VOL LX No 21, New Delhi, May 14, 2022

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, May 14, 2022

Saturday 14 May 2022

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, May 14, 2022

On May 11, 2022 the Supreme Court of India created a flutter by putting in abayence the law on sedition that has been on our statute books since colonial times. This repressive law was used to silent opposition to colonial rule and has continued to be used pretty widely in the post-colonial period. During the UPA years the scores of protesters part of anti-nuclear movement in Koodankulam were charged with sedition [1]. And ever since the government of Prime Minister Modi took office in 2014 there has a been a many fold rise in use of the Sedition law to target opposition activists and critics — some even for sloganeering or posting on social media. According to reliable sources [2], some 405 people were slapped with sedition between 2010 and 2021. We warmly commend, Maj. Gen. S G Vomatkere the retired senior officer of the Indian military (who also writes for this weekly) along with the prominent human rights organisation Peoples Union for Civil Liberties and the Editors’ Guild of India, and others who did signal public service by petitioning India’s Supreme court to strike down this archaic legislation. The Supreme Court began hearing this matter and was all set to constitute a wider bench to decide in this matter, the Government of India then agreed in the court to review this law. The Supreme Court then gave an interim ruling which has brought relief to people who are in prison who can now apply for bail and the court also puts on hold moves by the Central Government or by State Governments to file fresh cases under section 124 A of the Indian penal code, till the government finishes its legislative review process. We hope one day in the future the Supreme Court will suppress this law once and for all.

May 14, 2022 – HK

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