More Terrorists Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967
Why in NEWS ?
- Central Government had amended the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 in August 2019, to include the provision of designating an individual as a terrorist. Prior to this amendment, only organizations could be designated as terrorist organizations.
- Reinforcing the commitment of strengthening national security and its policy of zero tolerance to terrorism, Government has declared eighteen more individuals as designated terrorists, under the provisions of the UAPA Act 1967 (as amended in 2019) and included their names in the Fourth Schedule of the said Act.
UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES (PREVENTION) ACT, 1967
- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
- The National Integration Council appointed a Committee on National Integration and Regionalization to look into, the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India. UAPA was passed in 1967.
- Unlawful activity as amended refers to any action taken by an individual or association intended to disrupt the territorial integrity and sovereignty of India.
- Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged. It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if crime is committed on a foreign land, outside India. It has death penalty and life imprisonment as highest punishments.
- The primary objections to the Amendment are under Section 35, in addition to the categorization of organizations as terrorist organizations, extended the power to include within its scope the categorization of individuals as terrorists .
- An individual cannot be called a ‘terrorist’ prior to conviction in a court of law; it subverts the principle of “innocent until proven guilty. A wrongful designation will cause irreparable damage to a person’s reputation, career and livelihood.
- Right to Reputation is an intrinsic part of fundamental right to life with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and terming/tagging an individual as ‘terrorist’ even before the commencement of trial or any application of judicial mind over it does not adhere to procedure established by law.
- UAPA being a piece of ‘security legislation’ allows the government to arrest the citizens that might commit crimes mentioned under it. It is problematic legislation for various reasons.
- Many opine that it does not allow dissent. It criminalizes mere thoughts and political protests that cause “disaffection” with the state. It is an assault of citizens’ right to expression which is also a collective right of groups and unions to disseminate their views and UAPA majorly targets this right. It confers upon the government broad discretionary powers and also authorizes the creation of “special courts with the ability to use secret witnesses and to hold closed-door hearings.