Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) designated 18 Pakistan based individuals, as “terrorists” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967. The list includes seven Indians who are now in Pakistan.
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- The amended Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967, empowers the MHA to designate individuals as terrorists.
- The designation is in alignment with laws in the European Union (EU) countries, the U.S.A., China, Israel, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
- Those designated as terrorists include Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Syed Salahudeen, founders of Indian Mujahideen Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal and gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s close aide Chota Shakeel.
- In September 2019, the four individuals to be first designated as terrorists were Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed, his deputy Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, and Dawood Ibrahim.
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967
- The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 ('Act') is meant to outlaw and penalize unlawful and terrorist activities, which pose a threat to the integrity and sovereignty of India..
- The UAPA was originally passed in 1967 under the then Congress government led by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
- The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
- Till 2004, “unlawful" activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory.
- Following the 2004 amendment, “terrorist act" was added to the list of offences.
- The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA), also passed in 2019,
- Who may commit terrorism: 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.
- Allows an National Investigation Agency officer to conduct raids, and seize properties that are suspected to be linked to terrorist activities without taking prior permission of the Director General of Police of a state.
- The investigating officer only requires sanction from the Director General of NIA