Unlawful Activities Prevention Act: UAPA Full Form, Provisions | UAPA Act UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), passed in 1967, 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. The law aims at the effective prevention of unlawful activity associations in India. The UAPA has the death penalty and life imprisonment as the severest punishments.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is a law in India aimed at combating unlawful activities and terrorism. The UAPA Act holds significant importance in the UPSC exam as it pertains to national security and counter-terrorism measures. To study this act, candidates should focus on understanding its provisions, definitions of unlawful activities, the process of declaring an organization as unlawful, powers of investigation and arrest, and the procedures for trial and punishment under the Act.

UAPA Act – Unlawful Activities Prevention Act

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 In 2004, due to widespread outcry over the misuse of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), the government repealed it while also considering modifying the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Under UAPA, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet for a maximum of 180 days after the arrests, and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court. The UAPA Amendment Act 2019 was passed in August 2019 and designated individuals as terrorists on certain grounds provided in the Act.

UAPA Full Form

The UAPA Full Form stands for Unlawful Activities (Prevention) 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 of 1967. On August 09, 2019, the President assented to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967. The amended Act will be the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2019.

Provisions of the UAPA Act

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists. The key provisions of the UAPA Act are:

  • 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.
  • Insertion to schedule of treaties: The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any 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, 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 organization as a terrorist organization if it: commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes terrorism, or is otherwise involved in terrorism.

Features of the 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 the actions committed by a person or group to compromise India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

  • According to the UAPA Act, if an organization performs or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, supports terrorism, or is otherwise involved in terrorism, the union government may declare or designate it as a terrorist organization. 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 as illegal, it can declare it through an Official Gazette.
  • Under UAPA Act, 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 IPS 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 UAPA Act

The goal of the UAPA is to empower authorities to deal with actions that jeopardize India’s integrity and sovereignty. This legislation is also known as the Anti-Terror Law. The issues related to UAPA Act are:

  • To deal with terrorism-related offenses, 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. E.g., the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) provided UAPA statistics; 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 like 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 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.


UAPA Act is a significant subject in the UPSC exam, covering the provisions and features of this anti-terrorism legislation. It is an important topic included under the section of Internal Security in the UPSC Syllabus.

Candidates should thoroughly study the UAPA Act to understand its implications in maintaining national security and combating unlawful activities. They must practice the UPSC Previous Year Questions Papers to understand the UPSC Exam Pattern in a better way and get a hold of the topic.

UAPA Act UPSC Questions

Question: Consider the following statement regarding the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act: (1) Only Indians can be charged under UAPA, (2) 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: (C) Both A and B

Question: Under the UAPA Act, which authority is responsible for designating an individual or organization as a terrorist? (A) Ministry of Home Affairs, (B) National Investigation Agency, (C) Intelligence Bureau, (D) State Police Department

Answer: (A) Ministry of Home Affairs

For UPSC Mains

Question: Discuss the key provisions and implications of the UAPA Act in India. Analyze its impact on civil liberties, national security, and the challenges associated with its implementation.

Question: Examine the effectiveness of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in combating terrorism and maintaining national security. Critically evaluate its provisions related to the designation of terrorist organizations, preventive detention, and the scope of judicial review.

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