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Perspectives

The UAPA Bill: Facts and Opinions

The monsoon parliament session of 2019 is said to be the most productive with 26 bills to be passed. This is supposed be a matter of great pride but the real question is, is every bill discussed and debated thoroughly?

One of the most controversial bills passed by the Lok and Rajya Sabha is the Unlawful Activities Prevention (UAPA) Bill.

 UAPA is originally a law that prevents unlawful activities that may cause harm to the integrity and sovereignty of the government. Amit shah, our home minister said that in order to remain ‘4 steps ahead of the terrorist’ certain draconian measures are important and thus an amendment to the law a must. If the President approves of this amendment the centre may designate a person or an outfit “as terrorist if it (he/she) commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promote terrorism, or is otherwise involved in terrorism”.

The opposition fears the misuse of this bill, as this sort of power vested on the centre can be used to shut people down, stop revolutions and can be used to oppose different ideologies. Thus the opposition asked for a select committee to review all the sections of this bill thoroughly, but this plea got rejected with 104 votes against sending it and 85 in favour.

Participating in this debate, former home minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram, started that this bill was a serious ‘mischief’ as it can frame any individual if he is ‘believed’ to be a terrorist by the centre. He said that this bill was unconstitutional.

It is a direct onslaught on the rights and liberties of citizens. The vagueness at the heart of that formulation means that the Centre and investigative agencies have wide discretionary powers to decide what constitutes a “terrorist offence”. This is a recipe for misuse by governments which, arguably, may view critical voices as inimical to the “interests of India”.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA) Bill is “a dangerous piece of legislation” and will be used against the BJP’s ideological opponents; the CPI-M has said opposing this bill.

This legislation is an attack on federalism, democratic rights and liberty of citizens. We surely need draconian measures to stop terrorism, but such a bill with its vagueness directly attacks our democracy.

The NIA amendment act now gives power to the National Investigation Agency to investigate terror crimes related to Indians and Indian interests. What exactly are these interests is not described making it another very vague act.

Thus with the NIA amendment and the UAPA amendment, the centre has a lot of power to silence anyone they want, ANYONE.

Below are the reference links used for this article:

Let us know what you think about these amendments in the comments below.

Written by : Manasvi Shah

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