New Delhi, Apr 2 : Defending the promise made in its manifesto for the scrapping of the sedition law, the Congress on Tuesday said the law was of a colonial era and it must go. Reacting sharply over the BJP's comment that the Congress doesn't deserve a single vote for promises like doing away with sedition law, former finance minister and head of manifesto committee P Chidambaram said, "Sedition is a colonial era law. Not one but many many eminent persons have said it must go. The first one to say was Jawahar Lal Nehru. Sedition law is today outdated. We have made other laws for example Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
If you look at the provisions carefully, you will find that anything that come under the sedition, have already covered in those laws. And those laws have procedural safeguards and in sedition there is no safeguard at all." The law was introduced by the British in 1870 .
In 2016, a nationwide debate on free speech was sparked by the arrest of then student leader Kanhaiya Kumar who was charged with sedition after a controversial event on the campus of Delhi's premier Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) where "anti-India" slogans were allegedly raised by participants. Mr Kumar, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Bihar, has denied the charges and the case is currently in court.
The Congress, in its manifesto, has promised to amend the special powers given to armed forces in some states of North East and Jammu and Kashmir. The party drew flak from the ruling dispensation.
"As far as AFSPA is concerned, we will amend the law. Balancing the rights of security forces as well as human rights and remove immunity in 3 cases - Enforced disappearance, sexual violence and tortures. I don't think anybody in 21st century can say enforced disappearance, sexual violence and tortures must be condoned," Mr Chidambaram said. Earlier, BJP leader and finance Minister Arun Jaitley had slammed the Congress for promising to scrap the sedition law.
''It is ridiculous to think that the provisions which deal with sedition should be removed from Indian Penal Code....As if an act of treason will not be an offence in the country,'' Mr Jailtley said adding that a party which makes such pledges does not have right to get a single vote in the country. The Congress has released its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, promising Rs 72,000 annually to five crore poorest families under Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) scheme, a simplified single slab Goods and Services Tax and filling up 22 lakh vacancies in the government by march 2020. (UNI)