Though the Lok Sabha on Thursday took up for discussion the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2011, (UAPA) it wasn’t without some opposition from the members of the AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal (BJD), who sought to defer the discussion on the Bill.
It was left to mild-mannered Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to salvage the situation and convince AIADMK leader M. Thambidurai and BJD member B. Mahtab that the provisions of the UAPA were different from the ones proposed in the controversial National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).
As soon as Mr. Shinde moved the amendments to the UAPA, which propose to expand the definition of the “terrorist act” to include offences which threaten the country’s “economic security,” he faced opposition from Mr. Thambidurai, who wanted deferment on the discussion.
“This matter was discussed at length in the all-party meeting. There was no consensus. Please defer this Bill,” he said, as some other AIADMK members also joined him. B. Mahtab of the BJD also demanded that the Bill could be discussed afterwards. “We are not saying we do not want to discuss it. There are six pages of amendments. We will consider it afterwards. Please do not rush this Bill,” he added.
Mr. Shinde clarified that NCTC and UAPA were two different and important legislations. “It was NCTC which was opposed. This [UAPA] was referred to chief secretaries of states and their views have been considered. You are talking of NCTC, not this [UAPA],” he said.
The Home Minister said the Bill sought to amend Section 15, which requires the “terrorist act” to include economic security, and compensation for the damage to the monetary stability of India by way of production or smuggling or circulation of high-quality counterfeit Indian paper currency, coin or any such material. He said the existing provisions do not include within their scope an act done with an intention to threaten or present a likely threat to the economic security of India and counterfeiting of Indian paper currency.
The Bill also proposes to enhance from two years to five years, the period for which an association involved in terrorist activities, including terror financing, will be declared unlawful.
The “terrorist act” will also include demanding any bomb, dynamite or some other explosive substance or inflammable substance or firearms or lethal weapons or poisonous or noxious or chemicals or any biological, radiological nuclear material or device with the intention of aiding, abetting or committing terrorism.
Mr. Shinde said that amendment sought to enlarge the scope of Section 17, relating to punishment for raising funds for a terrorist act, and include within its ambit raising of funds both from legitimate or illegitimate sources, by a terrorist organisation or by a terrorist gang or by an individual terrorist.
He said that new Sections 22A, 22B and 22C will be included to cover offences by companies, societies or trusts, and provide proper punishment.
Mr. Shinde said the proposed amendments to the UAPA, 1967, aimed at bringing more clarity to the existing legal regime, and consequently remove deficiencies identified in the implementation of the provisions by the Central and State Intelligence and investigating agencies.