The amendments empower the government to designate individuals as terrorists and streamline the process of confiscating property.

Explainer What the upcoming changes to Unlawful Activities Prevention Act mean
news Lok Sabha Thursday, July 25, 2019 - 18:04

The controversial Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday evening following a walkout by the Opposition and a demand for scrutiny by a Standing Committee. The upcoming amendments tighten the law to empower the government to designate individuals as terrorists and streamline the process of confiscating their property.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 was passed with 278 members voting in favour and eight against. 

Here are the amendments passed by the Lok Sabha:

  • Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, only an organisation shall be deemed to be involved in terrorism if the organisation commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes or encourages terrorism or is otherwise involved in terrorism. The amendment expands this to individuals to be designated as terrorists as well. 

  • As per the Amendment, the Director General of the National Investigation Agency has to approve the seizure of a property when the NIA is investigating a case. Under the Act, an officer who investigated a case of terrorism had to get approval from the Director General of Police of the state. 

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

  • The Schedule lists nine treaties including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997) and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979). The Bill adds another treaty to the list: the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).

Home Minister Amit Shah said on Wednesday that there was a need for a tough law to end terror and the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill will help the Centre to designate individuals as terrorists without encroaching on the powers of states. In the Lok Sabha, Amit Shah said that they would have no sympathy for "those who work for urban Maoism”.

“There are many social workers who are working with respect. Their number is crores. The police has no intention of catching them. But those who work for urban Maoism, we have no sympathy for them,” he said. 

"There's a need for a provision to declare an individual as a terrorist. The UN has a procedure for it, the US has it, even Pakistan has it, China, Israel, European Union... Everyone has done it."

The Congress and several opposition parties staged a walkout, demanding that the Bill be sent to a Standing Committee. Several other opposition leaders including the Trinamool Congress's Mahua Moitra objected to the changes, saying the law could be misused to target individuals.

"If the Centre wants to target someone, they will get them somehow with the help of some law. Opposition leaders, minorities, right activists and others if they disagree with the homogenous idea of India that this government is trying to thrust upon us, the opposition runs the risk of being labelled as anti-national,” Mahua said.

With IANS inputs

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