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The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 has been passed in the Lok Sabha on 24th July with 287 ‘yes’ votes and 8 ‘no’ votes.

It was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Amit Shah, on 8th July, 2019, to amend the 1967 Act of the same nomenclature.

The key additions are as listed below:

  1. The parent Act empowers the Central Government to notify organizations as terrorist organizations by including them in the First Schedule. The 2019 Bill proposes to introduce a Fourth Schedule wherein individual persons can be listed by the Central Government as terrorists.
  2. Any investigating officer generally needs approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties. The amendment adds that if investigation of terrorism 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 properties that may be connected with terrorism.
  3. 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.
  4. Since terrorism is a trans-national concern, the 1967 Act lists several treaties within the scope of which terrorist activities are defined. The 2019 Bill adds the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) to this list.

The opposition has however voiced concern on the possible misuse of targeting unfortunate individuals, citing instances of people being branded Maoists for merely keeping Maoist literature.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has however confirmed the presence of an elaborate procedure before anyone is listed on the Fourth Schedule as a terrorist. He also added that had Yasin Bhatkal been declared a terrorist, the country would have been spared from 12 blasts.

The UAPA Amendment Bill 2019 adds teeth to the institution of NIA.

-India Legal Bureau

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