External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar on Tuesday introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha that seeks to ban funding of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and empowers the Centre to freeze and seize financial assets of people involved in such activities.
Amid sloganeering by Opposition members over repeated fuel price hikes, Mr. Jaishankar introduced the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, which also fulfils India’s international obligations pertaining to WMDs.
The earlier law of 2005 regarding WMDs and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) only banned their manufacture.
“In recent times, regulations relating to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems by international organisations have expanded,” Mr. Jaishankar said in the statements of objects and reasons of the Bill.
The Minister noted that the United Nations Security Council’s targeted financial sanctions and the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force have mandated against financing of the proliferation of WMD and their delivery systems.
“In view of the above, there is a need to amend the said Act to provide against the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems so as to fulfil our international obligations,” he said.
The Bill seeks to insert a new Section 12A in the existing law which states that “no person shall finance any activity which is prohibited under this Act, or under the United Nations (Security Council) Act, 1947 or any other relevant Act for the time being in force, or by an order issued under any such Act, in relation to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems”.
The Bill would give the government powers to “freeze, seize or attach funds or other financial assets or economic resources owned or controlled, wholly or jointly, directly or indirectly, by such person; or held by or on behalf of, or at the direction of, such person; or derived or generated from the funds or other assets owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by such person”.