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Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)

Context:

  • The Supreme Court recently denied bail to Gurwinder Singh, an accused in an alleged Khalistan module.
  • He was arrested when he was found hanging cloth banners on which Khalistan Jindabad and “Khalistan Referendum 2020” was written.
  • He is now accused of a being part of a larger conspiracy with Sikhs for Justice which is a pro-Khalistan group banned by the Indian government.

About UAPA, 1967:

  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Actis enacted with the aim to prevent unlawful activities associations in India.
  • The main objective of the act was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • The most recent amendment of the law which is the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 (UAPA 2019) has made it possible for the Union Government to designate individuals as terrorists without following any formal judicial process.
  • It is important to note that UAPA is also known as the “Anti-terror law”.
  • Also for prosecution under Section 13 of the UAPA, the permission of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is required.
  • But for prosecution under Sections 16, 17 and 18, the permission of the respective State government is required.

UAPA amendment act, 2019:

  • Under the original Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it:
  1. commits or participates in acts of terrorism,
  2. prepares for terrorism,
  3. promotes terrorism, or
  4. is otherwise involved in terrorism.
  • The amendment act in 2019 additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.

Approval for seizure of property by NIA:

  • Under the original Act an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.
  • The amendment act adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.

Investigation by NIA:

  • Under the original Act investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
  • The amendment act additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.

Insertion to schedule of treaties:

  • The original Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.
  • The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979).
  • The amendment act also adds another treaty to the list which is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).

Criticism against the act:

  • UAPA is criticized for its low conviction rate which is around just 2%.
  • According to the data shared by the Union Government in the period between 2016 and 2020 nearly 5,027 cases were registered under the act with 24,134 people accused in those cases.
  • But only 212 of 24,134 people were convicted and 386 were acquitted.

The post Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) appeared first on Vajirao IAS.

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