New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha this afternoon passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill that enables the Government to designate individuals as terrorists, even as the Opposition said it would infringe on the liberty of a person. The Bill was passed with 147 votes in favour and 42 against. Now it will become a Law after the President’s assent.
Ahead of the voting, Home Minister Amit Shah attacked Congress for failing to act against terrorism during its reign. Yesterday, several Congress and DMK leaders staged a walkout after the Chair rejected their plea to discuss the Bill on Friday (today). The discussion on the Bill continued till 8 pm yesterday. The UAPA Bill was taken up by the Rajya Sabha just a week after it was passed by the Lok Sabha.
“Terrorism has no religion, terrorists are against humanity; all should support stringent laws against it,” Amit Shah said.
Downplaying the Opposition’s concerns that the amended law could be misused, the Home Minister said a four-level scrutiny has been provided in the amendment to ensure human rights are not violated.
“It is important to designate individuals as terrorists as they start new organisations once an outfit is banned,” said Shah. The Rajya Sabha also rejected the Opposition-sponsored motion to send amendment to terror law to select committee.
“When we were in Opposition, we supported previous UAPA amendments, be it in 2004, 2008 or 2013 as we believe all should support tough measures against terror. We also believe that terror has no religion, it is against humanity,” Amit Shah said.
“What happened during Emergency? All media was banned, all Opposition leaders were jailed. There was no democracy for 19 months, and you are accusing us of misusing laws? Kindly look at your past,” Amit Shah said.
The UAPA Bill reflects the resolve of the BJP Government to crack down on terrorism and comes in the wake of increased crackdowns by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against terrorist organisations.
The proposed amendments to the existing Act redefine “who may commit terrorism”, establishing that under the Bill, the Centre may designate an organisation a terrorist organisation if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes terrorism, or is otherwise involved in terrorism.
The ‘burden of proof’ in these cases will fall on the investigating agency, in this case the NIA. The Bill also paves the way for the NIA to seize property as part of investigation into terror cases. “If the investigation is conducted by an officer of NIA, the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property,” it says.