On October 18, the Supreme Court will hear cases challenging sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 (UAPA), a date that has been pushed back from November 11.
When a case on the same issue came up for hearing, a bench led by Chief Justice of India UU Lalit moved the date to October 18. The petitioner, the Foundation of Media Professionals, was represented by Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, who informed the court that a plea had been filed opposing major parts of the UAPA.
“List these matters on October 18, 2022. The counsel appearing in the connected matters sent intimation accordingly,” the bench stated in the order.
The petition submitted that the Act is a political tool disguised as an anti-terror law and is misused by the government to target any and all forms of dissent.
“The scheme of the Act is a gross assault on the freedoms protected under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution, insofar as it grants excessive and overwhelming powers to the State to act against associations and individuals who express criticism against the ruling party or the majoritarian sentiments,” it added.
The petition sought to declare the Act unconstitutional, being manifestly arbitrary and violative of the fundamental rights protected under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.
The top court is seized of the various petitions including the one filed by two lawyers Mukesh Kumar and Ansarul Haq Ansari and journalist Shyam Meera Singh where UAPA was invoked against them over their social media posts regarding the communal violence in Tripura.
Some former IAS, IPS and IFS officers had also challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the UAPA. Former IAS officials Harsh Mander, Wajahat Habibullah, Amitabha Pande, Kamal Kant Jaiswal, Hindal Hyder Tyabji, M G Devasahayam, Pradeep Kumar Deb, Baldev Bhushan Mahajan, ex-IPS officer Julio Francis Ribeiro, Ish Kumar and former IFS officer Ashok Kumar Sharma had challenged the Act.