UAPA Full Form
The UAPA Full-Form stands for Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, on 8 July 2019. The Bill amended the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
On August 09, 2019, the President gave his assent to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. The amended Act will be known as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2019.
Unlawful Activities Prevention Act: Background
In the 1960s, India was confronted with the prospect of its army being defeated in the Sino-Indian War, as well as the DMK contesting elections in Tamil Nadu with secession from India as part of their manifesto. The UAPA was adopted on December 30, 1967, in response to the Indian state's necessity to declare secessionist organizations 'illegal.' In 2004, due to widespread outcry over the misuse of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), the government repealed it while also consider modifying the UAPA.
Provisions of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act
The key provisions made in the 2019 amendment were:
- Approval for the seizure of property by NIA: Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director-General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism. The Act adds another treaty to the list. This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).
- Insertion to schedule of treaties: The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act. The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979). The Bill adds another treaty to the list. This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005). adds another treaty to the list. This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).
- An investigation by NIA: Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above. The Act additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
- 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 Act additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
Features of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2019
Special processes, among other things, are established under the Act to deal with terrorist activity. Its goal is to avoid illegal activity associations from forming. Unlawful activity is defined as the actions committed by a person or group with the purpose of compromising India's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
- According to the Act, if an organisation (i) performs or participates in acts of terrorism, (ii) prepares for terrorism, (iii) supports terrorism, or (iv) is otherwise involved in terrorism, the union government may declare or designate it as a terrorist organisation. The bill also grants the government the authority to label people as terrorists on the same grounds.
- The death sentence and life imprisonment are the two most severe penalties under the UAPA. The Act provides the central government absolute authority, and if the Center judges an activity to be illegal, it can declare it through an Official Gazette.
- Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged. The Act provides extra-territorial jurisdiction.
- According to the Act, an investigating officer must acquire the Director-General of Police's approval before seizing property that may be linked to terrorism. If the inquiry is undertaken by a National Investigation Agency (NIA) official, the Director-General of the NIA must approve the seizure of such property, according to the Bill.
- Officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or higher can conduct investigations under the Act's provisions. The Bill also allows National Investigation Agencies officials with the rank of Inspector or higher to conduct investigations.
Issues associated with the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2019
The issues related to UAPA, 2019 are:
- To deal with terrorism-related offences, it departs from normal legal procedures and establishes a special regime that limits the accused's constitutional rights.
- Conviction rates are low under UAPA as against the frequent application of provisions of the Act. Eg- the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) provided UAPA statistics, a total of 4,231 First Information Reports (FIR) were submitted under various parts of the UAPA between 2016 and 2019, with 112 cases resulting in convictions.
- The vague definition of terrorist activities. The law defines it as any act aiming to strike terror in people and it also lists its connection to activities that may affect the stability of India. But it does not cover activities state-sponsored terrorism etc.
- It undermines the role and authority of state police in terrorist activities. As NIA is the primary investigating unit, the state police's role in anti-terror activities is undermined.
Future of UAPA in India
The Act needs to be modified to guarantee that sanctions for prosecutions and investigations under this Act are handled by a constitutional functionary who is independent of the Executive. Perhaps a High Court Judge could be assigned to this task.
A new law needs to be implemented rather than using 1963 laws with the use of technologies in dealing with terrorism rather than just relying on draconian provisions. Terrorism and illegal actions are always a source of political contention. If the Act is to be effective, it must appear apolitical at all times.
Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) UPSC
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is an important topic under Internal Security, covered under GS Paper 3 of the UPSC Mains Examination. From UPSC Prelims point of view, it can be covered in relation to the Current Affairs. One must read the UPSC Syllabus in-depth to understand the scope of the UPSC Exam.
Unlawful Activities Prevention Act UPSC Questions
Question: Consider the following statement regarding the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act
- Only Indians can be charged under UAPA.
- The act is applicable only in India so offenders cannot be charged outside India.
Which of the following statement is incorrect?
A) A only
B) B only
C) Both A and B
D) Neither A nor B
Answer: Option C
UAPA UPSC Notes PDF
The UAPA is generally asked in both UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains. A serious candidate must be well aware of the UAPA and all its recent developments. You can download the UAPA UPSC Notes PDF to get a complete overview of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in detail.