U.P. reports most UAPA arrests

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U.P. reports most UAPA arrests

  • Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of arrests under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967, followed by Jammu and Kashmir, and Manipur, according to data tabled by the Government in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
  • Uttar Pradesh recorded 361 UAPA arrests, Jammu and Kashmir 346 arrests, and Manipur 225 arrests in the year 2020 alone.

Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) Amendment Bill 2019

  • The Bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
  • Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it: (i) commits or participates in acts of terrorism, (ii) prepares for terrorism, (iii) promotes terrorism, or (iv) is otherwise involved in terrorism.
  • The Bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
  • Approval for the seizure of property by NIA: Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director-General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.
  • The Bill adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director-General of NIA would be required for the seizure of such property.
  • An investigation by NIA: 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.
  • Insertion to schedule of treaties: The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act. 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. This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).

Issues Surrounding the UAPA Act

  • Curbs individual’ Fundamental Right: It is a draconian law that curtails fundamental rights of an individual in the name of tackling terror by making it very tough for the accused to get Bail.
  • Highly Discretionary: It confers upon the government broad discretionary powers and also authorizes the creation of special courts with the ability to use secret witnesses and to hold closed-door hearings.
  • Restricts the dissenting voices: Criticism of the state can be termed an act “likely to threaten” India’s sovereignty.
  • It is being used to suppress dissent through intimidation and harassment thus threatening the very existence of public debate and freedom of the press and criminalizing the performance of civil liberties.
  • Unchecked power to the government: Persons barely linked to terrorist acts or organisations can still be brought within the UAPA’s ambit:
  • by alleging that they work in nebulously defined “terrorist gangs” or “front organisations” by charging them under expansively worded offences such as “supporting” a banned organisation and holding property that could be used by it.
  • Stringent Provision of bail: The standard for bail under the UAPA is that it cannot be granted unless the court is of the view that the accused is innocent of the alleged offence.
  • This is a prima facie standard, which means that the onus of proof of innocence, even for the purpose of obtaining bail, is effectively reversed. It is for the accused to show, for the purposes of bail, that he is innocent.
  • Low Conviction Rate: The fact that only 2.2 % of cases registered under the UAPA between the years 2016-2019 have ended in convictions by court highlights the above issues associated with this act.