Former judges express concern over UAPA’s ‘draconian’ provisions

Mumbai: “On May 1, 1956, freedom fighter Jayaprakash Narayan had written a letter to the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. JP had written that 95% of the Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir do not want to be part of India, and it is unfair for India to rule Kashmir. If he were alive today, he could be arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for talking about secession,” said former High Court Judge Hosbet Suresh at a seminar in Marine Lines on Saturday.

The seminar organised by the People’s Movement against UAPA saw participation of a number of victims, former High Court judges, and police officers, who voiced their opinion against the anti-terrorism law. The UAPA was enacted post 26/11 attacks. Pointing out the ‘draconian’ provisions, K.P. Mohamed Sheriff, vice-chairperson of National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations, said, “Under Section 43(d) of the Act, there is no anticipatory bail or bail after arrest. One can be detained without a charge up to 180 days. The trials conducted are in-camera closed-room ones. There are provisions for secret witnesses. How can you ensure a fair trial under such a law? Even though thousands are languishing in jails, there is a conviction rate of only 1.8%.”

Kamal Faruqui, convener of the event, said the law acts as a tool for discrimination against the Muslims. “We have met politicians emphasising dangers of the UAPA. The law is against humanity. If a terrorist activity takes place, the police look for scapegoats. If they find and nab a Muslim, all hell breaks loose.”

Another member E.M. Abdul Rehman accused the judiciary of discrimination. “A few days ago, in the Ajmer Dargah blast case, Aseemananda was acquitted based on the benefit of the doubt. But in the G.N. Saibaba case, that did not happen.”

Arun Ferreira, an advocate who was arrested under the UAPA, said the police are given a free hand under the law.

Former Judge of the Bombay High Court B.G. Kolse Patil and former Inspector General of Police S.M. Mushrif were present.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 2:20:26 PM |

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