Focus: GS 3 ; Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
Why in News?
Under the strong and iron-willed leadership of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, the Central Government had amended the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 in August 2019, to include the provision of designating an individual as a terrorist. Prior to this amendment, only organizations could be designated as terrorist organizations.
The Union Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah has unequivocally reaffirmed the nation’s resolve to fight terrorism. By invoking the said amended provision, the Central Government designated four individuals in September, 2019 and nine individuals in July, 2020 as terrorists.
About The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967;-
The UAPA, an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act – POTA (repealed in 2004) was originally passed in the year 1967.
Till the year 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory. Following the 2004 amendment, “terrorist act” was added to the list of offences.
The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
About The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019;-
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Amit Shah, on July 8, 2019. The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
The Act provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.
Who may commit terrorism:-
Under the Act, the central government may designate an organization as a terrorist organization if it:
(i) commits or participates in acts of terrorism,
(ii) prepares for terrorism,
(iii) promotes terrorism, or
(iv) is otherwise involved in terrorism.
The Bill additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
Approval for seizure of property by NIA:-
Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.
The Bill adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.
Investigation by NIA:-
Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
Insertion to schedule of treaties:-
The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.
The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979). The Bill adds another treaty to the list. This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).