What is Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)?
UAPA Bill, 2019 is passed today in Rajya Sabha with 147 Member of Parliaments voted in favour of the UAPA Amendment bill 2019 while only 42 polled against it.
In the wake of increasing terrorist activities in the country; the NDA government has changed certain provisions of The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 to tackle terrorism and Naxalism in the country.
Let’s know which activities are considered as the unlawful activities under this law and what changes have been made in this act?
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 enables more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations and for dealing with terrorist activities, and other related matters.
Extent and Application of this Act
1. It is applicable across the entire country
2. Any Indian or foreign national charged under UAPA is liable for punishment under this Act, irrespective of the location of crime/offense committed
3. UAPA will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if the crime is committed on foreign land, outside India
4. The provisions of this Act apply also to citizens of India and abroad.
5. persons on ships and aircraft, registered in India, wherever they may be are also under the ambit of this act.
Definition of the Unlawful Activity in India
unlawful activity” refers to any action taken by individual or association (whether by committing an act or by words, either spoken or written or by signs to questions, disclaims, disrupts, or is intended to disrupt the territorial integrity and sovereignty of India.
This act also prohibits 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 provoke any individual or group of individuals to bring about such cession or secession.
Check on Fundamental Rights
The National Integration Council, the Constitution (16th Amendment) Act, 1963, has empowered Parliament to impose (by law) reasonable restrictions in the interests of sovereignty and integrity of India, on the;
1. Freedom of Speech and Expression
2. Right to Form Associations or Unions
3. Right to Assemble peaceably and without arms
Changes in The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967
The union cabinet not only changed the NIA act of 2008 but also changed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. Lok Sabha passed the NIA amendment act, 2019 on Jul 15, 2019, and Rajya Sabha Passed it on 17th July 2019.
Amendment to Schedule 4 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act will allow the NIA to declare an individual suspected to have terror links as a terrorist.
Currently, only organisations are designated as 'terrorist organisations' but after the change in the UAPA, 1967 an individual can also be termed a terror suspect.
Famous arrest under The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967
1. Binayak Sen, a doctor, and a human rights activist. He was detained for allegedly supporting the outlawed Naxalites in May 2007.
2. Sudhir Dhawale, Dalit rights worker, arrested in 2018
3. Mahesh Raut, tribal rights worker, arrested in 2018
4. Varavara Rao, the poet, arrested in 2018
5. Surendra Gadling, Dalit, and tribal rights lawyer, arrested in 2018
6. Shoma Sen, professor, arrested in 2018
7. Sudha Bharadwaj, tribal rights worker, arrested in 2018
8. Rona Wilson, research scholar, in 2018
9. Gautam Navlakha, journalist and member of PUDR, in 2018
So above written provisions of this act show that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 was already a very strict law but the recent changes made it sharper.
In the wake of these recent changes, the leaders of opposition parties are concerned that the government will misuse this law as we have seen in the case of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). But we should be hopeful that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 will be able to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the country.