New Delhi: Activists from various organisations across the country Monday demanded repeal of sedition laws from the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other legislations.
"It is a sad thing that after more than 60 years of independence, such draconian laws exist. It is certainly a sad thing for our democracy," former Delhi High Court judge Rajinder Sachar said on the sidelines of a conference here.
A convention will be held here Tuesday to formally launch a campaign to collect one million signatures supporting repealing of the acts.
"Anti-sedition laws are being used to arrest farmers, workers and students protesting against government policy," People`s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) member V. Suresh said.
He said that these laws have been used to arrest fishermen in Kudankulam, who were protesting against the nuclear power project there.
"Fishermen have been arrested under charges of waging war against India (Section 121A of IPC), sedition (124A) and for creating disaffection on caste and communal lines (153A)," he said.
The activists said getting data regarding the actual number of arrests was difficult as no record is maintained by the government.
"Official agencies have no record of the number of people arrested in sedition charges. We have to rely on figures provided by civil society organisation, collected from lawyers and jails," PUCL general secretary Pushkar Raj said.
The activists will also be approaching the petitions committee of Rajya Sabha to appeal for repealing the sedition laws.
"Anti-sedition law was brought by British to suppress the Indian national movement. Post independence, it was not included in the constitution but it remained in the IPC," Suresh said.
"Nehru even told parliament in 1951 that the section should be removed, but it never happened," he added.