Sedition charges against Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNU students’ union president, and DU professor SAR Geelani for allegedly raising anti-India slogans are well known. Both the accused are out on bail and the police are yet to charge-sheet them. A list of other persons who have been slapped with similar charges.
In October 2015, the Tamil Nadu police arrested folk singer Kovan alias S Sivadas, an office bearer of the People’s Art and Literary Association (PALA) in Tiruchi for singing a song in favour of prohibition. The song lampooned CM Jayalalithaa over the State’s liquor policy. The police said he had uploaded defamatory content online against the CM and had “disturbed peace.” He was later granted bail.
In June 2016, Bengaluru City police arrested Shashidhar Venugopal, president of Akhila Karnataka Police Mahasabha on sedition charges a day before a call for state-wide protests by the police personnel to press their demands.
Mehdi Masroor Biswas
In June 2015, Mehdi Masroor Biswas who was handling a pro-ISIS twitter handle was booked for sedition. Five months after his arrest, the Central Crime Branch sleuths pressed charges under IPC Sections 121 for waging or attempting to wage war against the government of India, 124(A) for sedition, 18 (B) for recruiting of any person or persons for terrorist activity and 39 for support given to a terrorist organisation under the UAPA law.
The first case of sedition in the Telangana was registered against K. Kavitha, daughter of CM K. Chandrashekhara Rao. A Nizamabad MP, Ms. Kavitha said at an event that both Jammu and Kashmir and the erstwhile Nizam State were forcefully annexed by India. The BJP’s city legal cell convener Karuna Sagar moved a local court complaining that her statements amounted to sedition. An FIR was registered against her under sections 124( A) and 505 (statements leading to public mischief). There was no further progress.
In February 2009, Trinamool Congress chairperson and soon-to-be CM Mamata Banerjee, had shared a stage with Chhatradhar Mahato, convener of People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), a platform of mainly tribals to resist police action in the State. Mr Mahato was charged under Section 124A of IPC. Ms Banerjee, had participated in a rally to condole the death of three supporters of PCAPA, with Mr Mahato. Seven years later Mr Mahato is serving a term of life imprisonment awarded by a court in Paschim Medinipur district in December 2015. Mr Mahato was arrested in September 2009 for allegedly having Maoist links.
Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel and his aides were booked for sedition by the State police after he led a massive rally in Ahmedabad in August 2015. The rally turned violent after the police lathi-charged the crowd. Curfew was imposed in several places and the Army and paramilitary forces were deployed in sensitive places. In October 2015, the Surat police arrested him after an audio tape surfaced in which he was heard asking a Patel youth to kill a few policemen instead of committing suicide. The police slapped sedition and other charges on Hardik Patel. In July 2016, Hardik was released on bail by Gujarat High Court.
Aseem Trivedi was arrested in September 2012 on charges of sedition after his cartoons were picked up by the Indian Against Corruption movement. He was not only accused of defaming Parliament, and the Constitution but also of spreading hatred against the government. Mr Trivedi refused to apply for bail till the sedition charges were dropped. He was later given bail by HC after he spent two days in prison. The Cong-NCP government dropped charges, but his lawyers urged the HC to examine the legal position on sedition.