- IT’s Input
- About The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019
- Significance of the Bill
- The balance between protecting rights and safety
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019
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- Parliament passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 that seeks to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
- The Bill give powers to the central government to designate an individual as terrorist and seize his properties.
About The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. The Act provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.
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 Bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
Approval for seizure of property by NIA:
- Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police (DGP) to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.
- The Bill adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.
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 Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
- However, investigation of cases can be conducted by state DSPs as well.
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 of International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) to the list.
Significance of the Bill:
- The Bill puts zero tolerance to ‘terrorist investigation’ by declaring an individual as terrorist.
- The Bill focuses on expertise rather than on rank to investigate terrorist cases, as it also provided a qualified ‘inspector’ of NIA to conduct cases.
- NIA has always been short of DSPs. Hence, there are more number of inspectors in NIA. Whenever a part of the inspection is being undertaken by an inspector or whenever inspector has to inspect a person in absence of DSP, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act prohibited inspection as it could be only done by DSP. The bill empowers the inspector to do investigation.
- The Bill empower NIA Director general (DG) of police to seize the property of individual without obtaining the permission of state DG. This amendment is important because in some cases, NIA DG was refused to seize the property of a terrorist by the state government.
- The provision for designating individual as terrorist can be misused.
- Counter argument: There is very less chances of it being misused as the central government does not declare any individual without any material on record. The government might make a committee soon that will go through these materials to decide on individual as terrorist or not.
The balance between protecting rights and safety
- As per the Social contract theory, the citizens surrender some of their rights to the states in lieu of the protection offered by the states. The rights to be surrender and the level of protection required depends upon the time (situation in state).
- The rights such as Article 21 which says that No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law should be protected as well while protecting safety of a person.
- The supreme court brought the concept of ‘Due process’ in the Indian judicial system via Menka Gandhi case. Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person.
- Hence, If the provisions of the bill are challenged in the court, it won’t be challenged on the ground of procedure established by the law but instead against Due process of the law which requires the law to be fair, just and reasonable.
There is need,
- To strengthened investigation agencie’s ability to investigate more result oriented.
- To train police officers as terrorists are using latest technology. Moreover, there is need for more number of younger people who have professional IT skills to join investigation agencies.
- To have good relations with other countries in terms of legal assistance in criminal matters.
- To set up a professional central authority which can help the investigation agencies in conducting investigation outside the county.
- Before the Bill, the government was facing the problem of prosecuting the tribals (such as Naxalite) who have been dispossessed from their livelihood and forced to do the act of terrorism.
- After the passing of the bill, it will be easier for central government, central agencies and state police to handle terrorism.
- As the India faces one of the highest terrorist threat in world, the police should remain accountable to the law and follow the principle of objectivity and should show professionalism in investigation.