The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act’s (UAPA) goal is to give authorities the ability to deal with activities that threaten India’s integrity and sovereignty.
A Committee on National Integration and Regionalization was established by the National Integration Council to consider the issue of imposing reasonable limitations in order to protect India’s sovereignty and integrity.
What is UAPA?
In order to protect India’s sovereignty and integrity, the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963 was passed, giving Parliament the authority to set reasonable restrictions on the-
- freedom of speech and expression;
- right to assemble peaceably and without arms; and
- right to form associations or unions.
Afterward, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 was created to prevent organizations in India from engaging in unlawful activities.
This act is also referred to as the Anti-Terror Law.
However, in 2019 most recent amendment was made to the act (The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019) which now empowers the Union Government to designate an individual as a terrorist after following the proper legal procedures.
Background of the UAPA Act
In the middle of the 1960s, the Union government was considering enacting strict legislation prohibiting demands for secession. A peasant rebellion in Naxalbari in March 1967 created a sense of urgency. To deal with it, the President issued the Unlawful Acts (Prevention) Ordinance in June 1966.
The Act allowed for the designation of an association or group of people as “unlawful” if they engaged in any activities that included actions, words, or statements that supported any claim to bring about “the cession of a part of the territory of India” or its “secession” or that questioned or denied the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Prior to the UAPA’s enactment, associations were being declared unlawful under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1952. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the prohibitions clause was invalid since there was no judicial system in place to examine the legality of any restriction.
As a result, the UAPA incorporated provisions for a Tribunal that must confirm the notification declaring an outfit unlawful within six months.
In its current form, the Act, following amendments in 2004 and 2013, includes provisions to prevent the use of funds for terrorist purposes, including money laundering, the declaration of associations as unlawful, punishment for terrorist acts and activities, acts threatening the nation’s security, including its economic security.
Unlawful organizations were formerly prohibited for a period of two years, however, as of 2013, that timeline has been increased to five years.
Moreover, the 2004 amendments aimed to carry out a number of United Nations Security Council anti-terrorism resolutions.
The Act was further amended in 2019 to allow the government to designate an individual as a terrorist.
Extend of the UAPA of 1967
The act extends to the whole of India.
Anyone in our country who violates this Act’s provisions and is found to be responsible is subject to punishment under this Act.
Any person who commits an offense outside of India that is punishable by this Act would be treated in accordance with its provisions in the same way as if the offense had been committed within India.
The provisions of this Act apply also to-
- citizens of India outside India;
- persons in the service of the Government, wherever they may be;
- persons on ships and aircraft, registered in India, wherever they may be.
Declaration of an Association as Unlawful
As per UAPA, if the Central Government believes that a certain association is or has become an unlawful association, it may proclaim the association to be unlawful by publishing a notice in the Official Gazette.
Each of these notifications must state the grounds for their issuance.
No such notification shall take effect until the Tribunal has approved the declaration contained therein except:
The Central Government may, for reasons to be stated in writing, declare an association to be unlawful with immediate effect if it believes that circumstances exist that make such a declaration necessary.
The Central Government may, by order, in the Official Gazette:
- add an organization to the Schedule;
- add also an organization to the Schedule, which is identified as a terrorist organization in a resolution adopted by the Security Council to combat international terrorism;
- remove an organization from the Schedule;
- amend the Schedule in some other way.
Who can be called to be involved in terrorism?
an organization called to be involved in terrorism if it-
- commits or participates in acts of terrorism, or
- prepares for terrorism, or
- promotes or encourages terrorism, or
- is otherwise involved in terrorism.
Terrorist Organizations Listed in Schedule 1 of UAPA Act, 1967
Schedule 1 of the act states that in the opinion of the central government, if any association is unlawful, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare such association to be unlawful.
- Khalistan Zindabad Force
- International Sikh Youth Federation
- Lashkar-E-Taiba/Pasban-E-Ahle Hadis
- Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front
- United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA)
- People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
- United National Liberation Front (UNLF)
- National Liberation Front of Tripura
- Students Islamic Movement of India
- Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)
- Tamil Nadu Liberation Army (TNLA) and many more.
Provision of Tribunal under UAPA
When a notification declares any association to be unlawful, the Central Government must, within thirty days, refer the notification to the Tribunal for the purpose of determining whether or not there is sufficient justification to declare the association to be unlawful.
The Central Government has the authority to appoint a single-member tribunal known as the “Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal” if and when required.
The appointment is done by the Central Government, Provided that-
The person shall be a Judge of a High Court.
All the expenses related to the Tribunal shall be defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund of India.
In all matters arising out of the performance of its duties, the Tribunal shall have the authority to regulate its own procedure.
The Tribunal will have the same authority to conduct an investigation under this Act that a civil court would have under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
Provisions Related to the Seizure of Cash
The investigating officer may seize and detain any cash if he has reasonable grounds and are suspecting that-
- it is intended to be used for the purposes of terrorism; or
- it forms the whole or part of the resources of a terrorist organization.
Provided that, the money seized by the investigating officer in accordance with this subsection must be released within forty-eight hours, unless the designated authority, hearing the case, issues a ruling extending the time limit for keeping the funds.
Here, the “cash” means-
- coins or notes in any currency;
- postal orders;
- traveler’s cheques;
- banker’s drafts: and
- such additional financial instruments as the Central Government or, as applicable, the State Government may prescribe by written order.
Article Written By: Priti Raj