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UAPA Bill draconian, terms Opposition in Lok Sabha

NIA (Amendment) Bill “not based on logic”, says Tharoor

: The Union government on Monday introduced the National Investigation Agency (Amendment), Bill 2019 and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha amid protests by the Opposition.

Congress member Shashi Tharoor and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) member P.K. Kunhalikutty opposed the NIA Bill that seeks to strengthen the agency by giving it powers to probe terror attacks targeting Indians and Indian interests abroad.

Mr. Tharoor said courts were already clogged with huge backlogs and now the government was adding more cases through the amendment to the NIA Act. The Bill, “not based on logic”, was “piecemeal” legislation that did not insulate the NIA from political interference.

Mr. Kunhalikutty said that when the government was widening the powers of investigating agencies, there should be another set of measures or provisions to ensure that the powers were not misused.

The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks that claimed 166 lives.

The UAPA Bill that seeks to allow an individual suspected to have terror links to be designated as a terrorist was termed draconian by the Opposition.

N K Premchandran (RSP) claimed that in the name of tackling terror, the fundamental rights of an individual could not be foregone. There was no clarity on the government's claim that the NIA found it difficult to deal with such individuals. The House should not be kept in the dark on the difficulties being faced by the agency.

Mr. Tharoor described the amendment Bill as “hastily brought”. There were several provisions in the law to go after individuals. The government was failing to take pre-legislative consultation. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was opposed to such a provision and the BJP-led government should keep in mind the veteran leader’s views.

Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy, who introduced the Bill on behalf of Home Minister Amit Shah, asked why India could not designate terrorists as such if the United Nations could do so with people like Jamaat-ud_Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed. He asserted that the government believed in “zero tolerance” towards terrorism. A provision was needed to designate “individual terrorist” in law.

Mr. Reddy rejected claims that there was no pre-legislative consultation. The draft Bill was uploaded (perhaps on the Home Ministry website) in December 2016, he said.

Amendment to Schedule 4 of the Bill will allow the NIA to designate an individual suspected to have terror links as a terrorist. As of now, only groups are designated as “terrorist organisations”.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 6:07:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/uapa-bill-draconian-terms-opposition-in-lok-sabha/article28323449.ece

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