New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry today said that the law on sedition is under review of the Law Commission and that the panel has been asked to submit the report at the earliest.
Participating in the debate on the issue in the Rajya Sabha, MoS for Home Kiren Rijiju admitted that the cases of sedition were often found to be violative of the right to freedom of speech.
"The provisions (of the sedition law) are very wide. Anyone who speaks against the government established by the law can be booked under the sedition law," he said in response to a question. "Often the sedition charge is found to be violative of Article 19(1)(a), freedom of speech and expression."
Speaking on similar lines, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said: "The Law Commission is reviewing (the law); we have asked the Law Commission to give the report soon."
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad suggested that speeches inciting communal feelings also should be included in the category of sedition. To this, Rajnath Singh said: "We agree 100 percent; there should be action against those who divide on communal lines."
Rijiju further informed the Upper House that a Law Commission report in 1997 had admitted that the sedition law was defective, but did not ask for its deletion. In 2006, the 156th report of the Law Commission also sought substitution of the word 'sedition' but did not ask for its deletion.
"... reports and suggestions have come that there should be a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system in the country... sedition law has also been brought under this scrutiny, that there must be some amendment to it because the meaning is very wide," he said.
Rijiju said the government wants the Law Commission to take steps as soon as possible to address this law.
"There are cases and concerns are being raised. That is why I would like to quote the reports and we would like to see that the Law Commission takes steps as early as possible so that the concerns raised in the country are addressed," he said.
The Home Ministry has, from time to time, the latest in 2012, written to the Law Ministry to speed up the process, he said.
Rijiju also defended the government over the Jawaharlal Nehru University case, and clarified that the Centre was not involved in the filing of the sedition cases against leaders like Sitaram Yechury, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal who went to the campus.
"The JNU case is sub judice; investigation is going on... How are you directly accusing the government of taking action against students? There are cases against these students. There are some cases against politicians also not filed in Delhi. It's not the action of the government of India," he said.
Giving out figures, Rijiju said in 2014, the highest number of 16 sedition cases were filed in Bihar, in which 28 people were arrested. Jharkhand came second, Kerala third, and Odisha fourth on this count, he said.
With IANS Inputs