NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha Wednesday passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, popularly known as the Anti-Terrorism Bill. Introducing the bill in Lok Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the amendments to the bill will ensure anti-terror laws are not misused.
He asserted that it was essential to keep law enforcement agencies one step ahead of terrorists.
“There’s a need for a provision in the UAPA bill to designate a person suspected to have terror links as a terrorist. It is necessary to root out terror,” Shah said in the Lok Sabha. As Congress MPs staged a walkout from the lower house demanding that the bill be sent to the Standing Committee for reconsideration, the House Speaker Om Birla directed the House to cast their vote.
Responding to a debate on a bill, which amends the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in Lok Sabha, he also asserted that anti-terror laws would not be misused and it would be used only to root out terrorism.
Hitting out at the Congress for opposing the amendment, he said if the UPA was correct in amending anti-terror laws in their tenure, then so is the NDA. He said, in the name of ideology, some people promote urban Maoism and the government has no sensitivity towards them.
The government fights terrorism and it should not matter which party is in power, Shah said, referring to amendments made in anti-terror laws by successive governments.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah on 8 July, 2019. The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. The Act provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.
Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation 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, reports PRS Legislative.
The UAPA Amendment Bill 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).
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.
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.