Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently designated nine more individuals as “terrorists” under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act that was passed by the Parliament last year.
More on the news:
- The nine persons declared terrorists are linked to separatist Khalistani groups that seek to establish a separate country for the Sikhs.
- ‘From foreign soil’
- These individuals are involved in various acts of terrorism from across the border and from foreign soil.
- They have been relentless in their nefarious efforts of destabilizing the country, by trying to revive militancy in Punjab.
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967
- UAPA is India’s principal federal counterterrorism law.
- The UAPA – an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA, which was allowed to lapse in 1995 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was repealed in 2004 — was originally passed in 1967 under the then Congress government led by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.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.
Amendments to UAPA
- UAPA was amended in 2004, 2008, and 2013.
- The 2004 amendment
- 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 offenses.
- It was to ban organizations for terrorist activities, under which 34 outfits, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad, were banned.
- The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA), 2019
- It allows a 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.
- It also empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists.
- The designations are also in alignment with laws in European Union (EU) countries, the U.S.A., China, Israel, and even Pakistan and Sri Lanka.