UAPA Act, 1967
On terror designation
On seizing properties
|On Who can investigate
|• At present, probes are conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
|The new law will additionally empowers officers of the rank of inspector or above to investigate cases.
|Insertion to schedule of treaties
|• The Act draws the definition of terrorism from nine specific treaties.
|• The Act adds another treaty to it. The international convention for suppression acts of nuclear terrorism.
What do critics say?
The words “terror” or “terrorist” are not defined, but the UAPA Act in Section 15 defines a “terrorist act” as any act committed with intent to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty of India or with intent to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country.
Why designate an individual as a terrorist?
The Act seeks to empower the central government to designate an individual a “terrorist” if they are involved in an act of terror. The reason is that organisations can change names and continue to exist and not so with individuals. Globally, UN does it and so do nations. For example, Masood Azhar recently by the Sanctions Committee of the UN Nations Security Council that was established under Resolution 1267 in 1999.
What is the procedure?
The central government may designate an individual as a terrorist through a notification in the official gazette, and add his name to the schedule supplemented to the UAPA Act 2019. The government is not required to give an individual an opportunity to be heard before such a designation.
Till now, who was a terrorist and who was terror accused?
At present, in line with the legal presumption of an individual being innocent until proven guilty, an individual who is convicted in a terror case is legally referred to as a terrorist, while those suspected of being involved in terrorist activities are referred to as terror accused.
What happens to the person designated as a terrorist?
The designation of an individual as a global terrorist by the United Nations is associated with sanctions including travel bans, freezing of assets etc. The UAPA Act does not provide any such detail. It is left to the rules to be framed by the Executive (delegated legislation).
Can he get delisted by an appeal?
Central government has the power to remove a name from the schedule when an individual makes an application. If an application filed by an individual declared a terrorist is rejected by the government, he has the right to seek a review within one month after the application is rejected. GOI will set up the review committee consisting of a chairperson (a retired or sitting judge of a High Court) and three other members. The review committee will be empowered to order the government to delete the name of the individual from the schedule that lists “terrorists”, if it considers the order to be flawed.
Eventually, the individual can also move the courts challenging the government’s order.
Is it satisfactory?
Critics are not satisfied with the procedure for obtaining justice. Besides, very important details are left to be filled by the executive(ministry) which defies parliamentary democratic norms.
Is it in harmony with the federal principles?
On the federal front, there is the following criticism:
The existing UAPA law requires an investigating officer to take prior permission of the Director General of Police of a state for conducting raids, and seizing properties that are suspected to be linked to terrorist activities. The amendment Bill, however, removes this requirement if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The investigating officer, under the 2019 Act, only requires sanction from the Director General of NIA which is an entirely central agency.
Central agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) are required to obtain prior permission from the state government since law and order is a state subject under the Constitution.