UAPA In India: Present Scenarios

“A healthy democracy requires a decent society; it requires that we are honourable, generous, tolerant, and respectful.”
Charles W. Pickering

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 was executed as an anti-terrorism law to forestall all unlawful exercises and the organizations concerned and keep India’s sovereignty and integrity. Albeit the UAPA has been in force since 1967, the Parliament embedded a particular Chapter towards rebuffing fear and punishing terrorists in 2004 via the UAPA Amendment Act, 2004 (Chapter IV). From that point, amendments were made to the enactment in 2008 and 2013 too. Before this updating of UAPA, terrorist activities were managed under the currently repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (‘TADA’) and Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (‘POTA’).

Section 2 (o) of the UAPA Act, 1967 defines Unlawful activities as “any action taken by an individual or association (whether by committing an act or by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise) which is intended, or supports any claim, to bring about, on any ground whatsoever, the cession of a part of the territory of India or the secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union, or which incites any individual or group of individuals to bring about such cession or secession; or which disclaims, questions, disrupts or is intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India; or which causes or is intended to cause disaffection against India. “

The main difficulty with the arrest of the terrorist was that earlier; the Union didn’t have the authoritative capacity to authorize these laws. For example, in Kartar Singh v. the State of Punjab, the legitimacy of TADA was tested on the ground that it executed for the issue of ‘public order,’ which was inside the administrative space of states. But the Court maintained the legitimacy of TADA. The Court held that ‘public order’ covered issues of lesser gravity and more genuine dangers canvassed in TADA fell inside the Union’s space identifying with national security. A comparable test was mounted against POTA in PUCL v Union of India, which also was repulsed by the Court on similar grounds. Conversely, the UAPA has never been tested based on administrative capability.

The UAPA has been amended on various events to amalgamate the changing methods of terrorism, making extra-territorial arrests from shifting the burden of proof. The latest amendment that came was the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 (UAPA, 2019), which included the greater scope of the meaning of “terrorist” to incorporate people under Section 35 and 36 of Chapter VI of the Act. It permits the DG of NIA arrest of property from continues of terrorists or charged under the same under Section 25 and the powers of officials with the position of inspectors or more to investigate cases under UAPA Section 43.

On July 24, 2019, Lok Sabha cleared the progressions to the current Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment (UAPA) Bill, yet Opposition parties and everyday freedoms legal advisors have reprimanded the Bill, contending it very well may be utilized to target public dissent against the public authority and infringe on residents’ social liberties. On August 2, 2019, the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill preparing for it to become law.

The assignment of a person as a terrorist by the United Nations is related to sanctions, including travel boycotts, freezing of resources, and a ban against acquiring arms. The UAPA Bill, notwithstanding, doesn’t give any such detail. Under the amended Bill, the central government will set up the survey advisory group comprising a chairperson (a resigned or sitting adjudicator of a High Court) and three different individuals. The review committee will be engaged to arrange for the public authority to erase the person’s name from the timetable that rundowns “terrorists” if it believes the request to be defective.

The current UAPA law requires an exploring official to take the prior authorization of the Director-General of Police of a state for leading raids and holding onto properties that are suspected to be connected to terrorist exercises. The amended Bill, notwithstanding, eliminates this necessity if the examination is conducted by an official of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The words “terror” or “terrorist” are not characterized. Yet, the UAPA Bill in Section 15 describes an “act of terrorism” as any demonstration submitted with a purpose to compromise or liable to undermine the solidarity, integrity, security, monetary security, or power of India or to strike fear or prone to strike fear in individuals or any part of individuals in India or any unfamiliar country. The central government may assign a person as a terrorist through a warning in a leading newspaper and add his name to the schedule enhanced to the UAPA Bill. The public authority isn’t needed to offer an individual a chance to be heard before such an assignment.

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court by Sajal Awasthi against UAPA, 2019, to proclaim it unlawful as it abuses basic fundamental rights. He said it abridged the option to disagree and was against the provisions of the Indian Constitution as stated in Articles 14 (Right to Equality), Article 19 (Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression), and Article 21 (Right to Life). Another case filed by the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) battled that the new Section 35 permits the Center to assign a person as a terrorist and add his identity in Schedule 4 of the Act. At the same time, prior only associations could be declared as terrorist associations.

According to the Awasthi appeal, the right to equality is abused since the provision doesn’t give any itemized grounds dependent on which one might be declared a terrorist. Therefore, the condition is ‘discretionary.’ Regarding the contention based on Article 21, Awasthi claims that the right to reputation is an essential part of the right to life. This right will be diluted by the self-assertive exercise of power under Section 35.

The Jammu and Kashmir police summoned Section 13 of UAPA against individuals getting to social media through VPNs to avoid the most prolonged web boycott forced by the public authority when it rejected Article 370 of the constitution to partition the state into two UT’s. The government said it was done “to check the abuse of the locales by reprobates for spreading bogus data/tales.”

A total of 5,922 individuals were arrested in various parts of the country in the range of 2016 and 2019 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the government informed the Parliament on February 10, 2021. In an inquiry in the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister of State for Home, G Kishan Reddy said by the most recent information of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the complete number of individuals arrested under the UAPA in 2019 was 1,948.