Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)

About the law: It is an Act to provide for the more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations, for dealing with terrorist activities and for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.

Applicability of law:

The law is applicable to both Indian and foreign nationals, and it extends to the whole of India. Besides the provisions of this Act apply also to:
(a) citizens of India outside India;
(b) persons in the service of the Government, wherever they may be; and
(c) persons on ships and aircrafts, registered in India, wherever they may be.

Origin of law:

  • Based on recommendation of the Committee on National Integration and Regionalism appointed by the National Integration Council, the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963 was enacted which ammended Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
  • It empowered Parliament to impose, by law, reasonable restrictions in the interests of sovereignty and integrity of India, on the:
    1. Freedom of Speech and Expression;
    2. Right to Assemble peaceably and without arms; and
    3. Right to Form Associations or Unions.
  • In executing the intent of the 16th CAA, the UAPA was passed by parliament in 1967.

Key provisions:

Declaration as unlawfulThe Act assigns absolute power to the central government.

  • If government is of opinion that any association is, or has become, an unlawful association, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare such association to be unlawful.

Chargesheet: The investigating agency can file a charge sheet in a maximum of 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.

Punishment: it has the death penalty and life imprisonment as the highest punishments.

Ammendments of the Act:

2004 amendment:

  • It added “terrorist act” to the list of offences, to ban organisations for terrorist activities.
  • Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory. Following the 2004 amendment, the “terrorist act” was added to the list of offences.

2019 amendment:

  • The amendment empowers the Central Government to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds.
  • It empowers the Director-General, National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is under investigation by the agency.
  • It also empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism. Earlier, the power to investigate was with the officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police only.
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