UAPA : Is it being Misused … ?????

The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act was introduced by Parliament in 1967 and has become a draconian law used against dissidents.

UAPA (UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES PROTECTION ACT) … it is an anti-terror legislation which gives NATIONAL INVESTIGATION AGENCY (NIA) the right to arrest and raid suspicious people or organizations by declaring them as terrorists. Through time it has gone through quite a many amendments. But the amendments brought by current MODI Government back in 2019 has given a Special rather a controversial shape to it.

Political Dissent is not a Crime | Bytes for All, Pakistan

History and Changes in the Act

1) It was first passed in 1967 which gave the government the right to designate any ‘Organizations’ as Unlawful under Section 15. 2004 Amendment helped terrorism also getting defined as a crime under it.

2) It also strengthened the police with interrogatory powers and now it was very difficult for the accused to get a Bail (only if the court is convinced of prime facie innocence of the accused). Now what this 2019 amendment does it allows the government to even declare ‘Individuals’ as terrorists. The claimed logic behind this was anyone who supports, preaches or funds terrorist organizations should also be called a terrorist.

3) Earlier the UAPA law required the investigating officer to take permission from the concerned state authority before seizing an asset or conducting raids, also only the Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner. But, now the amendment removes this clause and now only NIA Director General’s nod is enough. Here we need to keep in mind that NIA is under the central government.

So … What is the Problem … ?????

The first and foremost problem here is, it is not defined ‘WHICH’ activities in particular will be called under terrorist activities, which was clearly specified previously. Central government can just add one’s name in the official gazette without even giving the accused a chance to be heard. Also, nor is it specified which standard or level of proof is required to frame anyone with such a high level of charge. If a person listed in the schedule files an application the government can remove the name if he is innocent actually, but again how will that be decided is completely left to be decided by the government. In case the application is rejected, the accused can file a Review after which the Review Committee consisting a chairperson alongside 3 members will decide whether the name should be deleted from the list or not. Basically, its like Government will put charges on someone as their norms, then if accused asks for review, they will themselves review it, and if not satisfied will review it again to self satisfy themselves.

1) UAPA just terms people Seditious if they are anyway ‘Associated’ with the organization. But, lawyers or activists have to engage with people of various opinions, even those whose opinions are at odd with that of the government.

2) Getting Bail is so tough, actually near to impossible which can even lead to cases where a person is rotting in the jail for years without even a Hearing. What if turns out innocent at last … who will repay his previous years to him.

3) Another big problem is that people don’t understand that one is only ACCUSED not proved to a be guilty under UAPA. But the media houses start their media trial and name shaming as if they are already proven terrorists. Because of all this, even if someone turns out innocent his reputation and image is tarnished so badly that they may never be able to live a decent life again.

Branding Innocent Citizens As Terrorists: UAPA, A Law On Loose

Cases of Misuse

There have many cases where people were arrested without proper charges or proof under UAPA and it is alleged that they were gobbled under the charge just because they showed Dissent against the government. VARAVARA RAO a 80 year old (Marxist Poet), SUDHA BHARDWAJ, 60 year old (civil rights activist), HANY BABU (DU professor), Arun Ferreira (Delhi based lawyer) and student activists like UMAR KHALID, SAFOORA ZARGAR, NATASHA NARWAL, SHARJEEL IMAM, etc. these all are some of the names booked under Sedition (Section 124A).

Here we should keep in mind that they are booked under Sedition for showing Dissent. But our Constitution allows us for freedom of speech and expression and even of showing Dissent with Government under Article 19(1)(a). Supreme Court has also specified that a speech can be termed Seditious only if it has a direct relation with the violence (direct and immediate, cause and effect) and not under far-fetched, remote or conjectural. Dissent is a sign of a healthy and progressive democracy but here it is straightaway equated with Sedition which is very harmful for the Liberty of the country.

So … the government is accused that they have used UAPA just as a tool to crush dissent. Here I am not supporting any of the student activist I mentioned above, but whatever be their opinion, we can listen to it. Also, it seems no surprise how can a 80 year old RAO and 60 year old SUDHA be a threat to the nation at this age, If they had been really, wouldn’t ANY of their activities would have come out in so many years.

UP Police Prevents Lawyer From Meeting Kerala Journalist Siddique Kappan  Arrested On The Way To Hathras

The Perfect Example to catch the Drill

In the recent HATHRAS Rape Case we saw SIDDIQUE KAPPAN and 3 more journalists who were going to cover the case were arrested putting out a baseless story that they were going to plan Riots over there. SIDDIQUE is a Delhi based Malayalam language journalist and he was booked under Sedition and UAPA. At the time they were arrested the government didn’t even knew the organization he is working for, now how come anyone be so sure that he is SUCH a big threat for nation’s security. Clearly, it was a misuse of power just to hide the black deeds of UP Government in HATHRAS case.

Individuals & 'urban Maoists' terrorists under UAPA: Will it unleash new witch  hunt?

Conclusion : The Sheer Misuse of Power must stop

The case of Hathras and other similar cases make the UAPA look similar like ROWLATT Act which was brought by British to arrest anyone without any warrant. This law (in new form) also draws resemblance from the Emergency times. I am not at all in favor of compromising national security but you cannot arrest anyone without giving a proper base for that, that too when you are not even allowing them a proper hearing or chance of bail. The examples present it clearly as a case of blatant misuse of power against the Dissenters, something which the ideals of our country have no room for. In my opinion, UAPA should be amended back to the way it was, if not at least it should give all accused a proper chance of proving their innocence (if they are). But … as a hard fact we all know it is not going to happen ……

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – GEORGE ORWELL




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