UAPA(Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act)-The Hindu-21/07/2022
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is an Indian law aimed at preventing unlawful activities associations in India. Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India. The most recent amendment of the law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 (UAPA 2019) has made it possible for the Union Government to designate individuals as terrorists without due process of law. UAPA is also known as the Anti-terror law.
The National Integration Council appointed a Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation to look into the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India. The agenda of the NIC limited itself to communalism, casteism, and regionalism and not terrorism. Pursuant to the acceptance of recommendations of the committee, the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963 was enacted to impose, by law, reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India. In 2019, the BJP-led NDA government claimed that in order to implement the provisions of the 1963 Act, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Bill was introduced in Parliament.
United Nations special rapporteurs stated that the provisions of the UAPA 2019, contravene several articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The opposition parties in India called the UAPA a draconian anti-terror law. BBC has reported that people arrested and charged with UAPA find it harder to get bail.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, on 8 July 2019. The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. The Act provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things. The act was passed in the Lok Sabha on 24 July and Rajya Sabha on 2 August. It received the assent of the president on 8 August.
PRS Legislative Research explained the act below:
Who may commit terrorism: Under the Act, the central government may designate an organization as a terrorist organization if it:
(i) commits or participates in acts of terrorism,
(ii) prepares for terrorism,
(iii) promotes terrorism, or
(iv) is otherwise involved in terrorism.
The Bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
Approval for the seizure of property by NIA: Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism. The Bill adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for the seizure of such property.
An investigation by NIA: Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above. The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
Insertion to schedule of treaties: The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act. The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979). The Bill also adds another treaty to the list. This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).