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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

GS-II :
  • 05 September, 2019

  • Min Read

Jurisprudence of the judicial rubber stamp

GS-II: Jurisprudence of the judicial rubber stamp

Background

  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (the Act) was enacted to provide for more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations, and for dealing with terrorist activities, and for matters connected therewith.
  • The said Act has been amended in the years 2004, 2008 and 2013 to add certain provisions relating to various facets of terrorism.
  • Its main objective is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2011 was introduced to make it more effective in preventing unlawful activities and meet commitments made at the Financial Action Task Force (an intergovernmental organization to combat money laundering and terrorism financing).
  • It expands the definition of ‘terrorist act’ to Acts that threaten the economic security of India and damage its monetary stability by production, smuggling or circulation of ‘high quality’ counterfeit currency. The security features that define ‘high quality’ are laid down in the Third Schedule.

Key Features of the Bill

  • It empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists if the person commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes terrorism or is otherwise involved in terrorism.
  • This has been done as it is seen that when a terrorist organization is banned, its members form a new organization to spread terrorism.
  • The bill also empowers the Director-General, National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is being investigated by the agency.
  • Under the existing Act, the investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police (DGP) to seize properties that bear any connection to terrorism.
  • It has been seen that many times a terror accused own properties in different states. In such cases, seeking approval of DGPs of different states becomes very difficult, and the delay caused by the same may enable the accused to transfer properties.
  • It empowers the officers of the NIA of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
  • The existing Act provides for investigation of cases to be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
  • No changes are being made in arrest or bail provisions. Also, the provision that the burden of proof is on the investigating agency and not on the accused has not been changed.
  • The International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) has also been added in the Second Schedule through the Amendment.

Why is it being opposed?

  • This is a potentially dangerous amendment which will empower officials of Union Ministry to brand any person ‘a terrorist‘, without following due process. The name of such a person will be included in the ‘Fourth Schedule’ proposed to be added in the parent Act. The only statutory remedy available to such a person is to make an application before the Central Government for de-notification, which will be considered by a Review Committee constituted by the Government itself.
  • The amendment does not provide any legal consequence in case an individual is designated a terrorist. The inclusion of one’s name in the Fourth Schedule as a terrorist per se will not lead to any conviction, imprisonment, fine, disqualifications or any sort of civil penalties. So this is simply power for the government to brand anyone as a terrorist.
  • An official designation as a terrorist will be akin to ‘civil death for a person, with the social boycott, expulsion from job, hounding by media, and perhaps attack from self-proclaimed vigilante groups following.

Source: The Hindu


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