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“Unlawful Activities Prevention Act” (UAPA)

“Unlawful Activities Prevention Act” (UAPA)  is primarily an anti-terror law aimed at more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations and for dealing with terrorist activities.
  • It was promulgated in 1967 to target secessionist organisations.
  • Unlawful activity refers to any action Taken by an individual or association intended to disrupt the territorial integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to Cession of a part of the territory of India or the secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union.
  • The 2004 amendment, added “terrorist act” to the list of offences to ban organisations for terrorist activities.
  • 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.
  • The 2019 amendment empowers the Central Government to designate “individuals” as terrorists on certain grounds.
  • The Act empowers the Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the said agency.
  • The Act empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state.
  • The government had declared 42 organisations as terrorist organisations and listed their names in the First Schedule of the UAPA, terrorism in India has largely been sponsored from across the border.

Criticism :

  • The definition of a terrorist act in UAPA is vague.
  • Amendments to UAPA in 2019 have given the Union government the power to notify an individual as a “terrorist” without a trial.
  • Police custody under UAPA can also be extended to 30 days, increasing the possibility of custodial violence.
  • UAPA permits detention without charge for up to 180 days, making i a convenient tool to silence dissidents.
  • UAPA prohibits a judge from granting bail to an accused unless that judge has “reasonable grounds to believe” that the accused is not guilty.

Cases and Conviction

  • There has been over 72% increase in the number of persons arrested under the anti-terror law UAPA (Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act) in 2019 compared to 2015, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • Only 2.2 % of cases registered under the UAPA between 2016-2019 ended in convictions by court.


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