Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019
Post on 07,September 2019   6:00 AM
By - Miss. Vibha Yadav
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The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, providing special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, individuals and groups that foster terrorism in India. The UAPA, an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act - POTA (repealed in 2004) was originally passed in the year 1967. Till the year 2004, “unlawful" activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory. Following the 2004 amendment, “terrorist act" was added to the list of offences.

Features of the bill
  • It empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists if the person commits or participates in acts of terrorism. This move was important because when one terrorist group banned, the members of the same group start operating under new name.
  • The bill also empowers the Director-General, National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is being investigated by the agency.In current scenario permission of DGP was required.
  • The Bill empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state.
  • The International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) has also been added in the Second Schedule through the Amendment.

Need for amendment
  • India faces one of the highest threats of terrorism in the world and therefore its counter-terrorism mechanism must be stringent.
  • The amendment was needed to align the domestic law with international obligations.
  • A specialised investigating agency, NIA ,cannot be dependent on state police for approval for siezure of property related to terrorism that has inter-state and international ramifications.
  • Investigation by inspector rank officer would help solve the human resource crunch in the NIA. This move would quicken the delivery of justice in UAPA related cases.
  • Designating individuals as terrorist would help in Making strong preventive mechanism which is much more important than tackling acts of terror.

Apprehensions regarding the amendment
  • From past experience we can say there is possibility of misuse this act.
  • It gives the state authority vague powers to detain and arrest individuals who it believes to be indulged in terrorist activities.
  • Some experts feel that it is against the federal structure since it neglects the authority of state police in terrorism cases, given that ‘Police’ is a state subject under 7th schedule of Indian Constitution.

Way forward :Terrorism is undoubtably a big threat and must be tackled with stringent counter-terrorism laws. This amendment, if followed in letter and spirit, is a step in the right direction. It is important to set up a review committee to examine and supervise the process of designating individuals as terrorists and investigation of cases with objectivity and fairness. Judiciary will play a big role in whole process and should focus on fair proceeding. Officers who are found guilty of any misuse and abuse of the powers under the law must be strictly punished.

 


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