UAPA Bill gets Rajya Sabha nod

Congress, BSP back legislation cleared by LS on July 24

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 that empowers the Union Home Ministry to designate individuals as terrorists was passed in the Rajya Sabha on Friday with Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supporting the legislation.

In the 240-member House, 147 members voted in favour while 42 voted against the Bill.

Parties like the Trinamool Congress, CPI(M), CPI, DMK, TDP, SP, AAP and RJD opposed the Bill.

UAPA Bill gets Rajya Sabha nod

It was passed in the Lok Sabha on July 24. With the Rajya Sabha giving its assent, it will soon be notified as a law.

Home Minister Amit Shah said gathering evidence against terrorists was a complex process and the law will help security agencies remain two steps ahead of them.

He said the Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Dargah blasts in which former Rashtriya Swayamsevak (RSS) member Aseemanand and others were acquitted recently were registered due to “political vendetta” and there was an attempt to link it to a particular religion.

“The Samjhauta charge sheet was filed in 2012 and 2013. We only argued the case. Judge did not find anything, so the accused were acquitted. Who brought political agenda here,” Mr. Shah said.

This is the third contentious legislation that has been cleared in the Rajya Sabha despite the ruling party not having a majority.

Mr. Shah said it was important to identify terrorists and not just organisations.

Attacking the Congress, he said the Opposition party should not talk about misuse and it should look into its past when Opposition leaders were jailed during the Emergency.

Responding to concerns over the law being misused, he assured no one’s human rights would be violated as a four-stage scrutiny with provision for appeals has been prescribed when individuals are declared terrorists.

Mr. Shah said all countries have laws to designate individuals as terrorists, noting that United States, European Union and the United Nations, besides countries like China, Pakistan and Israel also have such a law.

Elaborating on the track record of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), he said out of 278 terror cases registered by the agency, charge sheet has been filed in 204. Of the 54 cases where judgments have come, conviction has been there in 48. He said 221 persons were convicted and 92 acquitted by the courts. A total of 131 charge sheets have been filed from June 1, 2014 to July 2019.

Mir Mohammad Fayaz of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said such laws were misused most in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Our jails are filled with Kashmiris arrested in terror cases. Recently four Kashmiris were acquitted after 23 years,” Mr. Fayaz said.

Congress leader P. Chidambaram said his party was not against the law but was opposed to some amendments.

He said the issue was that of liberty of an individual and if the law was passed, it would be struck down by courts.

Mr. Chidambaram asked why an individual should be named a terrorist when the organisation he belongs to has already been banned.

Digivijaya Singh said the Congress does not have faith in the government’s intent.

Rejecting the charge, Mr. Shah took a swipe at Mr. Singh saying, “Digvijaya Singh ji seems angry. It is natural, [as] he has just lost an election.”

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Printable version | Jul 1, 2020 5:26:24 AM |

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