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India to replace British colonial-era sedition law with its own version

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s government on Friday introduced a bill in Parliament that seeks to replace a British colonial-era sedition law with its own version.

The provision dealing with sedition — actions aimed at encourage people to be or act against a government— was imposed by the British in 1860 to repress India’s freedom fighters. India won independence from the British colonialists in 1947, but continued to use the sedition law.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s critics accused his government of using the sedition charge to label dissenting citizens as disloyal toward the country. If convicted, a person could be punished with a maximum of life imprisonment.

Home Minister Amit Shah said Friday that the new bill would repeal the British offense of sedition and introduce a new provision.

Chitranshul Sinha, a legal expert, said the government’s new provision would punish “acts endangering sovereignty unity and integrity of India.” It would carry a punishment range of seven years to life imprisonment.

“It doesn’t get rid of the British-era law. They (the government) have rearranged the provision,’’ Sinha said.

“It’s just a change of name. Essentially, nothing has changed,” Sinha said.

Ashok Sharma, The Associated Press

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