Polity and Governance

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 Passed

Introduction
•Lok Sabha passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 today.
•Union Minister for Home Affairs, Shri Amit Shah said, “A strict law is utmost necessary in this regard to strengthen the investigation agencies. The urgency of this matter needs to be understood by all.”
 
Objective of the amendment
•To facilitate speedy investigation and prosecution of terror offences
•Designating   an individual as terrorist in line with the international practices.
 
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act
•It is an Act of Parliament aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
•Its main objective is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
 
Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963
•Pursuant to the acceptance by Government of a unanimous recommendation of the Committee on National Integration and Regionalism appointed by the National Integration Council, the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963, was enacted empowering Parliament to impose, by law, reasonable restrictions in the interests of sovereignty and integrity of India, on the:
     •Freedom of Speech and Expression;
     •Right to Assemble peaceably and without arms; and
     •Right to Form Associations or Unions.
•In order to implement the provisions of 1963 Act, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Bill was pssed in the Parliament.
 
1. No change in arrest and bail provisions
•There are no changes being made in arrest or bail provisions.
•The burden of proof is on the investigating agency and not on the accused.
•These provision has not been changed.
 
2. Empowering NIA
•Currently, forfeiture of property representing proceeds of terrorism can only be made with prior approval in writing by the DGPs of the state wherein such property is located.
•However, many times terror accused own properties in different states. In such cases, seeking approval of DGPs of different states becomes very difficult, and the delay caused by the same may enable the accused to transfer properties etc.
•Proposed amendment empowers DG, NIA to attach properties acquired from proceeds of terrorism.
•Proposed amendment shall expedite investigation in terror cases.
 
3. Designating individual as terrorist
•Currently, there is no provision in the UAPA or any other legislation to designate individual terrorist. Therefore, when a terrorist organization is banned, its members form a new organization.
•Hence, it is essential to declare guilty individuals as terrorists.
•UN and other nations have similar provisions
•If, an individual is stopped from attracting other individuals into terrorism by providing ideological and financial support, this menace can be finished.
•Hence, designating an individual as terrorist, after following the due process of law, is of prime importance to nip terrorism in the bud.
 
4. Power of investigation
•Presently, an officer not below the rank of DSP or equivalent is competent to investigate offences.
•NIA is facing shortage of DSPs, and the number of cases has increased significantly.  
•Inspectors of NIA have acquired sufficient proficiency to investigate these offenses and Senior officers are required to be better utilized for supervision of investigation.  
•Thus, the amendments are being proposed to make the inspectors of NIA competent to investigate specified offences of UAPA.
•Senior officers of NIA supervise all cases to expedite investigations in accordance with law.
 
5. Addition in the Second Schedule
•The International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) has also been added in the Second Schedule through this Amendment.



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