Question: Indian Government has recently strengthened the anti-terrorism laws by amending the unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 and the NIA act. Analyze the changes in the context of prevailing security environment while discussing the scope and reasons for opposing the UAPA by human rights organizations.
Answer: The UAPA act gives power to the government for arresting an individual on account of suspicion of their activities. The individual can be arrested without the need of an arrest warrant.
The changes incorporated in UAPA act
- Designating individual as terrorist
The new amendment has given power to the NIA to designate any individual as terrorists if there are proof of his activities against the state. Earlier only the organisation could be designated as terrorist organisation but now lone individual can also be charged. This has gained validity because most of terrorism activities is carried out by a single individual in form of lone wolf attacks.
- Applicable on overseas soil
The new law will be applicable to Indian citizens living abroad. This means that the activities carried out on foreign soil can now be charged under UAPA. This is important because most of the activities against Indian state viz the Khalistani movement and Kashmiri movement takes place in foreign countries.
- National level validity
There will not be a need for state police to interfere in arrest of charged individuals. This will thus not complicate any jurisdiction issue that may arise. The ammendment is valid because if there is no uniform law then there are chances for overlapping of certain provisions, which will hamper legal proceedings.
Reason for opposition
- Violation of fundamental rights
The biggest threat posed by the law is that basic rights enjoyed by the citizens will be curtailed. Since this law is non bailable, individuals are sure to be stuck in the long legal battle.
- Tool for political vendetta
There is an opinion among certain classes that this law will be misused to censor people belonging to different ideologies. Political opposition can be charged if they protests against acts of the government.
A non partial body must be set up to draw guidelines for application of this act. The judiciary must act as reagent for looking after the validity.
Thus, we can say that UAPA is indeed a harsh form of legal provision which has all the ingredient for being misused. But in certain cases it might be necessary. It is better if the act is used in exceptional cases only.