The Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2019

With the rapid increase in the terrorist activities across the world, a tough law was in need to uproot terrorism from India. On 2nd August 2019, Parliament passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill (UAPA), 2019, which seeks to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967,  to empower Central Government to designate an individual as a “terrorist”. It was first passed by Lok Sabha on 24 July 2019 and later by Rajya Sabha with 147 Members of Parliament voting in favour of the UAPA Amendment bill 2019 while only 42 polled against it. The NDA government, in the wake of increasing terrorist activities in the country, has changed certain provisions of The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 to tackle the terrorism and Naxalism in the country.

Under this Act, the central government may designate an organization as a terrorist organization if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism,  prepares or promotes terrorism, or is otherwise involved in terrorism.  In addition, now those individuals who participate in terrorist activities, aid those indulging in such activities, propagate the ideology of terrorism and members of known terrorist organizations will also be declared as terrorists after this amendment is passed.

The Bill additionally empowers officers of National Investigation Agency (NIA), of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases and to attach properties acquired from proceeds of terrorism, though it will be mandatory for officer of NIA conducting investigation related to terror cases to take approval of Director General of NIA for seizure of such property. Earlier, only the officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above were empowered to conduct investigation of cases under this Act, as per section 43. This Amendment seeks to empower officers with the rank of inspectors and above to do the same. With this new provision quick delivery of justice in UAPA related cases, which are reviewed by senior officers at various levels, is aimed at.

This Act is applicable across the entire country. Any Indian or foreign national charged under UAPA is liable for punishment under this Act, irrespective of the location of crime/offense committed. UAPA will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if crime is committed on a foreign land, outside India. The provisions of this Act apply also to citizens of India and abroad. Persons on ships and aircraft, registered in India, wherever they may be are also under the ambit of this Act. The Bill adds another treaty to the parent Act-International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).

With passing of the bill several contentions against the provisions added in the bill have been raised which include the violation of Fundamental Rights like Article 14 and 21. These contentions are still being tried in the Court at the moment but the crux of the Bill was to solidify idea of intolerance towards terrorism in the country and it is a preventive measure to stop any future disasters.

This article is authored by Pankhuri Pankaj, student of B.A. LL.B at Vivekananda Institute Of Professional Studies,

Also Read – The Aadhar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019

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