UAPA, one of India’s home-brewed Preventative Detention Law to curb unlawful activities, has been widely cited as a tool to silence dissent. In that light, let’s look at the origins of this law, various amendments in it and some unexpected numbers associated with it.
Crux of the Matter
Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)
It was enacted on 30th Dec 1967.
The political climate around it:
- Indian army’s defeat in the 1962 Sino-Indian War.
- DMK‘s secession promises in Tamil Nadu.
- Emergence of Separatist elements in Nagaland.
After Prevention of Terrorist Activities (POTA) law was scrapped in 2004, its controversial provisions were inculcated in UAPA. The amendment included introduction of clauses related to terrorist activities and their broadened definition.
After 26/11 Terrorist attacks, stricter bail and detention provisions for those under suspicion of terrorist activities were added.
It expanded already ambiguous definition of terrorism and authorized warrantless, wide authority search and seizure.
This amendment authorized Govt to designate individuals as terrorists. It further established a Review Committee for appeals, where Review Board had no time-limit to decide and no compulsion to reveal its reasoning.
NIA, UPA Enforcer
Operating under the Ministry of Home Affairs, National Investigation Agency (NIA) is responsible for investigating all cases under UAPA. They have designation of Special Courts for NIA trial. The law also enables NIA agents to arrest and seize properties circumventing Police.
Popular Case-Bhima Koregoan
In 2018, NIA arrested late Fr Stan Swamy, Varavara Rao, Sudha Bhardwaj, etc. on accusation of inciting violence at a rally in Koregaon. By 2020, multiple charge sheets have been filed but no trial has started and those arrested continue to be detained.
Human Rights Violation
The vague framing of the act leaves scope for possible misuse and its time consuming judicial proceedings leads to long periods of detention.
In UAPA cases, the process itself is the punishment.Justice Aftab Alam, former Supreme Court Judge
UAPA Cases & Conviction Rate
- Indian Constitution is the largest constitution in the World. Every year, 26th November is celebrated as Constitution Day in India to commemorate its adoption in 1949.