Rajya Sabha MP and former law minister Kapil Sibal on Friday said the Law Commission's recommendations backing the sedition law are contrary to the ethos and the very foundations of the republic.
The commission has proposed retaining the penal provision for the offence of sedition, saying repealing it altogether can have serious adverse ramifications for the security and integrity of the country.
Addressing a press conference, Mr. Sibal said, "I am disturbed at these recommendations. These recommendations themselves are contrary to the ethos of the republic. They are contrary to the essence of the very republic, they are contrary to the very foundations of the republic. They have given the status of the government as if the government is the state. Government is installed through the will of the people; it does not represent the state. It works for the state. This is a law that is conceptually flawed," the senior advocate said.
After 2014, there have been more than 10,000 cases of sedition out of which there has been conviction only in 329, he said.
"You want to shut up those who wants to agitate against the government," Mr. Sibal said, slamming the recommendations.
Mr. Sibal, who was a Union minister during the UPA 1 and UPA 2 governments, quit the Congress in May last year and was elected to the Rajya Sabha as an Independent member with the Samajwadi Party's support. He recently floated the non-electoral platform 'Insaaf', aimed at fighting injustice.
The Law Commission, chaired by Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi (retd), also suggested increase in the minimum jail term for sedition offences from the present three years to seven years, seeking to bring it in consonance with the scheme of punishment provided for other offences under Chapter VI of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which deals with offences against the state.
Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code dealing with sedition is at present under abeyance following directions of the Supreme Court issued in May 2022.
Amid allegations of misuse, there have been demands for repeal of the provision.
Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said the Law Commission recommendations made in its report 'Usage of the Law of Sedition' were persuasive and not binding and an "informed and reasoned decision would be taken after consultation with all stakeholders.
The commission also said that sedition being a "colonial legacy" is not a valid ground for its repeal.