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The News Minute | September 3, 2014 | 09:01 am IST On 20 August, Salman, a college student from Thiruvanthapuram, was arrested by the police and charged with sedition for sitting while the national anthem was played out at a cinema. He had also howled after the anthem was over.  The complaint was filed by people who knew him from college. They also complained that he had posted something on Facebook which insulted India and hurt their sentiments before the Independence Day. He was charged under the Information Technology Act.  His bail application was rejected by a Thiruvananthapuram court. If convicted, he may face a life sentence. Read our previous report - Sedition charges over a Facebook post in Kerala: Justified or going overboard? The Amnesty International has come out in support of Salman. ‘The arrest and detention of a 25-year old man accused of sedition for allegedly disrespecting India’s national symbols is a reminder of how archaic laws continue to be used to curb free speech in India,’ Amnesty International India said today.  “A criminal charge for such conduct, even if some might regard it as offensive, is completely unwarranted,” said Shailesh Rai, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India. “Nobody should have to go to prison merely because they are accused of causing offense.” “The Constitution of India and international law recognize the right to freedom of expression, and this right extends to speech that offends or disturbs. Authorities must respect this fundamental right, not seek to curb it.” “The case against Salman M. should be dropped and he must be released. Indian laws on sedition and online free speech do not meet international human rights standards on freedom of expression. These laws must be urgently repealed.” Section 66 of the IT Act has been misused in the past also. Human Rights activists have been relentlessly demanding its repeal.

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