Kapil Sibal, who wants sedition law scraped, never shied away from implementing it when UPA was in power

Irony dies a thousand deaths as Sibal, former law minister, who did not take any step to abolish the sedition laws, talks about abolishing the same when they are in Opposition.

Kapil Sibal, former law union law minister, today came out in support of the JNU student leaders Kanhaiya Kumar, Shehla Rashid and others against whom the Delhi Police is in process of framing charges.

Sibal took to Twitter to appeal that the sedition law (section 124A of the Indian Penal Code) should be scrapped. He furthered that the “real sedition is when those in power manipulate institutions, misuse the law, breach peace and security by inciting violence.”

Sibal being the one to complain about the sedition law is indeed interesting, because he, as the minister of law and justice in the UPA 2 did not take any steps to abolish the same. In fact, it even charged people under the same ‘colonial hangover’ law which Sibal now wants to be scrapped. Scientist and Columnist Anand Ranganathan, who has previously called out Congress’ hypocrisy over a series of tweets on multiple occasions, again listed out various occasions in the past where Congress itself used the sedition law against citizens. There were not one or two, but as many as 8,000 such cases where sedition law was used when UPA was at the Centre.

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In September 2012, cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was arrested on charges of sedition, cybercrime and insulting the national flag, Parliament and the Constitution through his work. In October 2010, the Union Home Ministry gave a go-ahead to Delhi Police to file a case against Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and activist Arundhati Roy for giving ‘hate speech’ at a seminar. These days, Roy spends her spare time spreading fake news.

A cursory Google search also threw up dozens of cases of sedition laws used under hte Congress regime. Simranjit Singh Mann, President of Shiromani Akali Dal – Amristar, was arrested from Sangrur for allegedly raising pro-Khalistan slogan in 2005. In 2012, sedition charges were filed against nearly 7,000 villagers who were protesting against Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu.

In 2011, Maharashtra Police charged Sudhir Dhawale, an alleged urban Naxal, with sedition and he spent 40 months in jail. Congress was in power in the state as well as at the Centre. In March 2014, Akhilesh Yadav led Uttar Pradesh government booked 67 Kashmiri students under sedition laws for cheering for Pakistani players during a cricket match. Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party was Congress’ alliance partner in 2017 Uttar Pradesh state elections and has even extended support to Congress for forming the government in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in recently concluded elections.

In 2013, a sedition case was filed against the author of Meendezhum Pandiyar Varalaru (Resurgence of Pandiyar History), K. Senthil Mallar, which claimed that Pallars, a Scheduled Caste, were the original rulers of southern state Tamil Nadu. In September 2012, two Swedish nationals were booked under sedition charges for burning Indian currency notes in public.

Clearly, there was no dearth of sedition charges filed under the UPA. However, Kapil Sibal saying the sedition laws are being “misused by Centre just to keep citizens in check” is a bit rich. Kapil Sibal had passed a law where anyone posting anything ‘offensive’ on Twitter can be jailed for three years. That was the section 66A of the IT Act that was amended by the UPA.


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