Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Adityanath, during a rally in Kanpur said that "azadi" slogans amount to sedition and his government will take strict action against any person raising these slogans in protests. Earlier this month, sedition charges were filed against 3000 people protesting against CAA in Jharkhand. A sedition case was also filed against a student in Karnataka and a woman in Mumbai because they were holding "free kashmir" placards during protests against CAA.
Sedition is an offence under section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. If the charges under this section are proved, the punishment can go up to life imprisonment. Sedition has a long history of being used to suppress dissent against the government and restrict free speech. During the British rule, it was used to suppress the nationalist movement in India. This section of the IPC has also been used to target people who have political views opposed to that of the ruling government in post-independence India. Recent data suggests that there has been a rise in use of this law since 2014, when the Modi led BJP government came to power. The National Crime Records Bureau data reveals that in 2013 people in custody under this section was only 9 and in 2014 it increased up to 58.
This section of India’s criminal code seeks to punish a person who brings or attempts to bring hatred, contempt or disaffection towards the government. The sedition law, despite having a very low conviction rate, continues to be used in India because it serves as an important tool to crush political dissent.
Does raising "azadi" slogan amount to sedition? Through various landmark judgments the courts have held that mere speech does not amount to sedition. In this video, Faizan Mustafa, explains the sedition law in India with its history and case laws.