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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 10 March, 2021

  • 12 Min Read

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act cases rose by 72% from 2015

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act cases rose by 72% from 2015

  • There has been over a 72% increase in the number of persons arrested under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act) in 2019 compared to the year 2015, data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the Lok Sabha show.
  • As many as 1,948 persons were arrested under the UAPA in 1,226 cases registered across the country in 2019.
  • From 2015 till 2018, the cases registered under the Act annually stood at 897, 922, 901 and 1,182 respectively, while the number of arrests was 1,128, 999, 1,554 and 1,421.
  • In 2019, the highest number of such cases were registered in Manipur (306), followed by Tamil Nadu (270), Jammu & Kashmir (255), Jharkhand (105) and Assam (87) cases.
  • The highest number of arrests in the same year was made in Uttar Pradesh (498), followed by Manipur (386), Tamil Nadu (308), Jammu & Kashmir (227) and Jharkhand (202).
  • Cases under the UAPA are investigated by the State police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA). As far as the NIA is concerned, so far 48 special courts have been constituted across the country for the speedy trial of terror-related cases.

Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967

  • Unlawful Activity refers to any action taken by an individual or association whether by action/ words spoken/ written/signs to questions that disrupt the territorial integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • The UAPA, an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act - POTA (repealed in 2004) was originally passed in the year 1967. It was enacted by Indira Gandhi.
  • Till the year 2004, “unlawful" activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory. Following the 2004 amendment, “terrorist act" was added to the list of offences.
  • The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
  • The National Integration Council (headed by PM) appointed a Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation. Pursuant to this Committee, 16th CAA, 1963 was enacted to impose, by law, reasonable restrictions in Art 19 (Speech, Asso, Assembly) in the interests of the integrity and sovereignty of India. And to implement the provisions of the 1963 CAA, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was enacted in 1967.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019

  1. 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.
  2. This has been done as it is seen that when a terrorist organization is banned, its members form a new organization to spread terrorism.
  3. The bill also empowers the Director-General, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of the seizure or attachment of property when the case is being investigated by the agency.
  4. 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.
  5. It has been seen that many times a terror accused owns 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.
  6. It empowers the officers of the NIA of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. The International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) has also been added in the Second Schedule through the Amendment.

UAPA, 1967

NIA Amendment Act, 2019

  1. It aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities across India and abroad.
  2. Its main objective was to provide powers to Central Agencies and States to deal with terrorist activities directed against integrity and sovereignty of India.
  3. Center may designate an organization as a terrorist organization.
  4. It is applicable across the entire country.
  5. Any Indian or Foreign National charged under UAPA is liable for punishment under UAPA, 1967.
  6. It is applicable even if the crime is committed on a foreign land, outside India.
  7. Persons on ships and aircrafts registered in India.
  1. It amended Schedule 4 of UAPA which will allow NIA to designate Individuals as terrorist.
  2. It empowers DG of NIA to seize properties (which previously required permission from DGP).
  3. It allows NIA officers (Inspector and above) to investigate the cases. Earlier only DSP or ACP and above could investigate.
  4. MHA declared 4 individuals as terrorists
    1. Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar
    2. Lashkar e Taiba - Hafiz Saeed, Rehman Lakhvi
    3. Dawood Ibrahim

Analysis

  • According to NCRB data, 922 cases were reported under UAPA in 2016, which was 5% less than 2014 (976 cases).
  • India faces 1 of the highest threats of terrorism and hence, anti terrorism mechanism must be stringent.
  • NIA is a specialized agency and cannot be dependent on state police for approval of seizure of property.
  • It would quicken the delivery of justice.
  • It would address the activities done by Lone Wolf who does not belong to any organization.
  • It would also give impetus to India's demand to designate Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed as terrorists in International Org.
  • But on the other hand, there are concerns of misuse of unfettered powers given to investigative agencies. Opposition says it could also be used against political opponents.

National Investigating Agency

  • NIA is a Central agency established by NIA Act, of 2008 (after the Mumbai attacks) to combat terror in India.
  • It comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • NIA acts as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency.
  • It is authorised to investigate any terror-related matter without special permission of the States.
  • The founding DG of NIA was Radha Vinod Raju. Currently, Y C Modi is the chief.
  • Functions
    1. To investigate terror related cases or to make strategy to combat terrorism.
    2. To study and analyse laws related to terrorism in other countries and evaluate and amend Indian laws.
    3. To investigate and prosecute offences affecting sovereignty, integrity, security of the State.
    4. To have friendly relations with Foreign countries and International org.
    5. To implement International treaties, agreements and conventions.
  • NIA has banned JeM, LeT, PLA, SIMI, Babbar Khalsa International, ULFA, NDFB (Assam), LTTE, TNLA etc.
  • NIA (Amendment), 2019
    1. The ambit of NIA increased to investigate Human Trafficking, Counterfeit currency, Manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, Cyber Terrorism and Offenses under Explosive Substances Act, 1998.
    2. Jurisdiction of NIA increased. They can investigate offences committed outside India. It will be subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.
    3. Center and State can designate Session Courts as Special Courts to conduct trials under NIA Act. This will be done in consultation with the CJHC of the respective State.

Way Forward

  • It is important to set up a Review Committee to examine this process for fairness and objectivity.
  • There is a greater role for the judiciary to carefully examine cases of misuse. Also Judicial Review.
  • There should be a balance between individual freedom and state obligation to provide security.

Source: TH


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