Weaponisation of Sedition and the UAPA to Curb Free Speech in India
Volume III, Issue VI, 2020
In recent times, the UAPA and Sedition laws have been used against journalists, politicians, and students who criticize the central government or its leaders. This article discusses the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act before and after the 2019 amendment, and the Section 124A of the Indian Penal code that criminalizes Sedition in India. This article throws light on how the central government under the UAPA has the power to (A) Label an INDIVIDUAL as a terrorist (B) How the REVIEW COMITEE (established under SECTION 37) for reviewing the decision of the Central government is constituted by the central government itself, and also about the abuse of Section 124 A by Private citizens against people who criticize the central government or its leaders through speeches, tweets, or other forms of social media posts. Most people charged under this section have no prior Criminal record and are often acquitted by the court. However, people are subjected to long pretrial custody and expensive legal battles.
Data from National crime records bureau have been cited as evidence. Recent cases after the NCB report of 2019 was published too have been cited. The article concludes with a quote from a Special Rapporteur criticizing the actions of the government, and how these laws could threaten democracy in the future.
Keywords: UAPA, Section 124A, Free Speech, Government