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UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES PREVENTION ACT

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

BY

Raushni Ranjan Pradhan, II year, Law College Dehradun


Introduction

The bill was passed on December 30, 1967, in both the houses of the parliament and through the assent of president it became an Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. Till now it had been amended many times, last it was amended in 2019. UAPA aims to curb the associations in India those who work or target to harm the unity and integrity of our country. There were lots of groups or associations in India that did anti-national or anti-government activities. These activities harm our country in many ways, so for curbing the anti-national and terrorism activities Indian parliament brought Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. This act allows the central government and state government to do several things, such as it has the power to designate any part of the organization as unlawful, it defines and criminalizes what it called unlawful activities. There is no provision for judicial interference on banning any organization and also no need to prove anything before the court. The main objective of the act was to give power and authority to the state for dealing with activities which harm the integrity and sovereignty of India.

The amendments had done to UAPA are as follows:

  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 1969.

  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1972.

  • The Delegated Legislation Provision (Amendment) Act, 1986.

  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2004.

  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2008.

  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2012.

  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019.

The last four amendments are most important, the 2004 act defines terrorism as a crime and it gives power to the government to declare and ban organization as terrorist. The law also gives the power to police to enhance part of interrogation and it makes it very difficult for an arrested person to get bail.

On December 17, 2008, it was amended and adopted after the attack in Mumbai. More provisions similar to POTA and TADA were brought in like maximum periods in police custody, arrest without warrant, restriction on bail and many more. The 2012 amendment expanded the already vague definition of terrorist act to include the offences that threat the country’s economic security.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the ministry of home affairs, Mr. Amit Shah on July 8, 2019. The major change in this act was that power from the state was given to the central government and it has a provision for the government to designate an individual as terrorist if the individual is a terrorist worker or has hands in any terrorist act. Also, an individual who raises money, promote or prepare for terrorism should be designated as terrorist. And then some will try to plant terrorist theory or literature in the minds of young. The bill gives power to an NIA officer and inspector rank person to investigate cases. But earlier the investigation was held by the deputy superintendent rank officer or assistant commissioner of police. The bill also adds the treaty of the international convention for the suppression of nuclear terrorism (2005).

Under the unlawful activities Prevention act, there is punishment

There are various kinds of punishment under this act. For the terrorist act, a person will be liable with death or life imprisonment and shall be liable for fine also. If a person involved in the conspiracy, organizing a terrorist camp will be liable with imprisonment not less than 5 years may extend to life imprisonment and shall be liable for fine. For giving home or shelter to a terrorist and threatening witness of any terrorist act will be liable with imprisonment that is not less than 3 years which can be extended to life imprisonment and shall also be liable for fine. If a person is a member of the terrorist group or association and holding proceeds of terrorism he or she will be liable with life imprisonment and shall also liable with fine as decided by the court and authority.


There are many landmark cases related to this act some of them are R.M Malkani vs. State of Maharashtra[i] and State of Maharashtra Vs. Bharat Shanti Lal Shah and others[ii].

Fundamental rights that are provided in our Constitution

UAPA infringe many fundamental rights of persons which are provided through the constitution to the citizens of India. Some of the rights are freedom of speech (Article 19), personal liberty (Article 21), the right to a fair trial (It also comes from article 21). There were many cases where terror accused have been released after spending so many years behind the bars. Almost 72% of people who were arrested under UAPA have been acquitted of all the charges till 2015. Some famous persons arrested under unlawful activities prevention act are KK Shahina (journalist) in Tahalka she went to take the interview of a Bangalore blast suspect and she was charged with UAPA, GN Saibaba professor of Delhi University was held guilty under this act but still a subject of discussion, Jyoti Chorge a 19-year-old girl having the possession of Maoist litterateur, Hubli conspiracy case where 17 students were arrested under UAPA related to some terrorist activity but they all were released after spending 8 years behind the bars, Wahid sheikh he was also charged under this act but he was released after spending 9 years of his life in jail.


This act is very good for stopping terrorist activities, but some people may misuse this act. Organizations who are working for the rights of minorities and oppressed sections of the society are very easily labelled as a banned and terrorist organization under this act. Their activists or members of the organization get arrested without any proper proof and denied bail. There is no provision for anticipatory bail under this act which makes it more draconian.

Conclusion

As per the conclusion in Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, there is the provision of detention without charge sheet for 180 days, and a person can be in police custody for 30 days without any proof. Special courts have been made for hearing the cases of UAPA with closed-door hearing and secret witnesses can be used. The most important sunset clause is missing in this act as most of the earlier acts like POTA and TADA have a sunset clause that means that after every two years it has to go in parliament for changes or to pass from parliament again. There are no provisions for the mandatory periodic review. Police or authority can search, seize and arrest with any warrant. The vague definition of terrorist activity to include the wide range of non-violent political activity and political protest, such kind of action should be at the time of war or emergency but UAPA has normalized it at the time of peace

[i] 1973 AIR 157 [ii] 2008 (13) SCC 5