KASHMIRI STUDENTS ACCUSED IN SEDITION CASE IN HUBLI
Context: A court in Karnataka’s Hubli on 17th February sent three students from Kashmir to judicial custody after they were arrested on Sunday, for the second time, on charges of sedition for allegedly shouting pro-Pakistan slogans.
- The students, said to be from Shopian in Kashmir, were released on Sunday under CrPC section 169 due to lack of evidence.
- They have been accused of celebrating the Pulwama terror attack with slogans of Azadi or freedom set to the song of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISI), Pakistan’s military media wing, on February 14, the first anniversary of the suicide bombing that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers.
SECTION 169 IN THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, 1973
- Section 169 of the CrPC is invoked when an investigating officer is of the view that sufficient evidence is not available to produce an accused before a court for remand.
- It says, If, upon an investigation under this Chapter, it appears to the officer in charge of the police station that there is not sufficient evidence or reasonable ground of suspicion to justify the forwarding of the accused to a Magistrate, such officer shall, if such person is in custody, release him on his executing a bond, with or without sureties, as such officer may direct, to appear, if and when so required, before a Magistrate empowered to take cognizance of the offence on a police report, and to try the accused or commit him for trial.
- The Indian Penal Code defines sedition (Section 124A) as an offence committed when “any person by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India”.
- Disaffection includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. However, comments without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, will not constitute an offence under this section.
PUNISHMENT FOR THE OFFENCE OF SEDITION
- Sedition is a non-bailable offence. Punishment under the Section 124A ranges from imprisonment up to three years to a life term, to which fine may be added.
- A person charged under this law is barred from a government job.
- They have to live without their passport and must produce themselves in the court at all times as and when required.
ORIGIN OF SEDITION LAW IN MODERN INDIA
- The law was originally drafted in 1837 by Thomas Macaulay, the British historian-politician, but was inexplicably omitted when the IPC was enacted in 1860.
- Section 124A was inserted in 1870 by an amendment introduced by Sir James Stephen when it felt the need for a specific section to deal with the offence. It was one of the many draconian laws enacted to stifle any voices of dissent at that time.