Will scrap sedition, defamation laws,review AFSPA: Cong

Congress President Rahul Gandhi. PTI file photo

Congress on Tuesday promised to repeal laws dealing with sedition and criminal defamation and review the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) enforced in Jammu & Kashmir and some north-eastern states.

In its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections, Congress also promised to set up a court of Appeal between the High Courts and the Supreme Court to hear appeals from judgments and orders of High Courts.

However, its assurance to review the AFSPA triggered a war of words with the BJP which accused the Congress of trying to demoralise the Armed Forces with “such a disgraceful policy”.

The promise to amend the Code of Criminal Procedure to affirm the principle that 'bail is the rule and jail is exception' also drew scorn from the BJP.

“Rahul Gandhi is saying that everyone should get bail. I want to ask him, is it your effort to save your corrupt people like Karti Chidambaram,” BJP President Amit Shah asked.

Scrapping of sedition laws, electoral bonds

In a series of changes to the existing laws, Congress has promised to omit section 499 of the Indian Penal Code to make defamation a civil offence.

It also promised to omit 124A of the Indian Penal Code that defines the offence of sedition which it claimed had been misused and had become redundant because of subsequent laws.

Congress also promised to usher in electoral reforms, by promising to scrap the 'opaque' electoral bonds scheme that was designed to favour the ruling party.

It also promised to set up a National Election Fund to which any person may make a contribution. The funds would be allocated at the time of elections to recognised political parties in accordance with criteria laid down by the law.

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