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You Didn't Slap Sedition On Scientist Selling Defence Secrets To Pakistan, Was Sedition Removed Just To Save Him: Sanjay Raut

Shiv Sena Uddhav Thackeray faction leader Sanjay Raut was referring to defence scientist Pradeep Kurulkar, who has been arrested for allegedly passing secret information to a Pakistani intelligence operative.

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Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut
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Shiv Sena Uddhav Thackeray faction leader Sanjay Raut on Saturday questioned the Centre's proposed repeal of the sedation law and asked if the law is being repealed to save a scientist arrested for sharing secret information with Pakistani operatives. 

Referring to the case of defence scientist Pradeep Kurulkar, Raut said sedition was never invoked against him. 

Raut further said Kurulkar is a "hardcore worker" of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and should have been slapped with sedition. 

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday announced that the Centre plans to repeal the sedition law. The repeal is part of a revamp of the country's criminal justice system whereas three sets of laws are to be replaced with new legislations. The Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 is to be replaced by Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023; Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 to be replaced with Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023; and Indian Evidence Act,  1872 to be replaced by Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023. 

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Kurulkar, the scientist mentioned by Raut, is a scientist at the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) who was arrested under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for sharing secrets with a Pakistani intelligence operative. 

In a video shared by ANI, Raut said,"The one who should have been slapped with sedition, you did not slap him with sedition. In Pune, Dr Pradeep Kurulkar, who has sold our defence secrets to Pakistan, who is a hardcore worker of RSS, was not slapped with sedition. Are you repealing the law to save him? There are many such people who should be slapped with this law. If you are repealing the sedition law, have you repealed it for someone's benefit?"

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Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has reportedly found that Kurulkar told the Pakistani operative that he would show her a report on the BrahMos missile in person and the two also discussed other Indian missiles and drones. Kurkulkar was allegedly honey-trapped by the Pakistani operative and he discussed with her and shared information that he knew to be confidential, said a report. 

Kurulkar and the Pakistan operative also discussed “Agni 6, Rustom [a drone], surface to air missiles, Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV), and drone projects” of DRDO along with “quadcopter, DRDO duty chart, Meteor missile, Rafael, Akash, and Astra missile” and referred to a private Indian defence company executive who is a DRDO vendor and makes “robotic equipment” for Indian forces, reported The Indian Express last month. 

Though the Centre has announced the repeal of sedition, the provision is set to be replaced by another provision which appears to be even broader in scope. While Section 124 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) governing sedition would be repealed, a new provision, Section 150 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023 is set to replace it. The new proposed provision addresses the "acts endangering sovereignty unity and integrity of India".

Hindustan Times noted that "the offence of sedition has been retained under the proposed law with new nomenclature and a more expansive definition of what will constitute 'acts endangering sovereignty unity and integrity of India'".

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HT reported, "A key change in the proposed draft Section 150 of the BNS bill is the removal of a provision, which allowed a person convicted of sedition to get away only with a fine: Section 150 of the bill prescribes imprisonment for life or with imprisonment which may extend to seven years, in addition to fine, as punishment."

The paper further reported that the new provision appears to expand the discretion of law enforcement agencies in prosecuting the accused.

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