UAPA bill: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre to respond over amendments in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment (UAPA) Bill which was passed a month ago in the Parliament.
The top court bench headed by Chief Justice of Indian Ranjan Gogoi in its notice asked the BJP-led government to elaborate on the amendments to the anti-terror legislation. The notice was based on the petitions that claimed that the amended UAPA will violate Fundamental rights and empower state machinery to designate an individual as a terrorist.
The amendments to the existing bill were passed in the lower house on July 24 amid heated discussion and condemnation by the Opposition and civil liberty lawyers. The Rajya Sabha passed the bill on August 2.
Introduced under the Congress-led UPA government, under the previous bill, the investigating officer had to take prior permission of the Director-General of Police of a state for conducting raids and to seize properties vis-a-vis person suspected to have a terror link. While the amended bill has removed this clause if the investigation was conducted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The on-duty officer is not required to seek DGP’s permission and can do away with the permission of NIA’s Director-General.
When it comes to the Central Bureau of Investigation, the agency will be required to obtain prior permission from the state government on grounds of law and order being the state subject.
The major confusion with the updated bill has been with the parameters to decide who is a terrorist and who’s not. Earlier, those proven guilty were declared as terrorists, those suspected of being involved in terror activities were called terror accused, however, the new bill does not clarify on these grounds. It does not entail the parameters or proof that would establish whether or not an individual is a terrorist.
Moreover, the amended bill does not require FIR to designate an individual as a terrorist. While discussing the bill in Rajya Sabha, Home Minister Amit Shah had asserted that there would be four-level scrutiny before an individual was declared as terrorist and refuted Opposition’s fear of human rights violations.