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An Overview of Unlawful Activities prevention Act (UAPA),1967

Unlawful activities prevention act, 1967 was enacted by Parliament of India and passed by both the houses pf parliament and received the assent of president on 30th December 1967.

This act aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities all over India and abroad. Its main objective was to make power available to state and central agencies for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India. The unlawful activities prevention act, 1967 and Anti-terror law was amended by Lok Sabha in 2019[i].

The Scope and Application of this Act
  1. It extends to whole of India.
  2. Every person shall be liable to punishment under this Act for every act or omission contrary to the provision thereof, of which he is held guilty in India.
  3. Any person, who commits an offence beyond India, which is punishable under this act, shall be dealt with according to the provisions of this Act in the same manner as if such act had been committed in India.
  4. The provisions of this act also apply to:
    1. Citizens of India and abroad.
    2. Persons in the service of government.
    3. Persons on ships and aircrafts, registered in India is also under provision of this act.

Inquiry of following fundamental rights under this Act

The National Integration Council, the Constitution (16th Amendment) Act, 1963, has enacted empowering parliament to impose, by law, reasonable restrictions in the interests of integrity and sovereignty of India[ii], on the following;
  1. Freedom of speech and expression.
  2. Right to form associations or unions.
  3. Right to assemble peacefully and without arms.

Power of Investigating Authority under UAPA

Section 43: Officers competent to investigate offences under chapter iv and vi of the Act[iii].
  1. The Deputy Superintendent of police or police officer of equivalent rank shall check out the offence of terrorism.
  2. In metropolitan areas it shall be investigated by a police officer not below the rank of assistant commissioner of police.
  3. In any case not relatable to clause (a) or (b), officer of central government not below the rank of deputy superintendent of police or a police officer of an equivalent rank, shall investigate any offence punishable under chapter iv or chapter vi of the act.

The witness protection scheme under UAPA

Section 44: Protection of witness [iv];
  1. The proceedings under this Act may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, be held in camera if the court so desires.

  2. The court on the application of witnesses or public prosecutor or on its own motion, may keep the identity of the witness and his/her address secret if there is a danger to the life of a witness.

  3. To keep the identity and address of witnesses secret the court may under take following measures;
    1. Hold proceedings at a place to be decided by the court.
    2. In the order of judgement or any records which are accessible to the public, court avoids to mention the name and address of witness.
    3. The issue of any directions for securing that the identity and address of the witness are not disclosed.
    4. Any decision that is in the public interest to order that all or any of the proceedings pending before such a court shall not be published in any manner.

  4. Contravention of the court decision or direction towards keeping the identity and address of witness secret is punishable with imprisonment which may be extend to 3 years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Role of Review committee

The UAPA Act provides the establishment of review committee which is having restrictive role to play as compare to the provisions of POTA or National security act or CPFEPOSA. section 37 obligates the central government to establish one or more review committee for the purpose of De-notification of a terrorist organization.

Structure of the committee:
  • The committee shall consist of a chairperson who shall be a judge of a high court.
  • It may have maximum of three members who is an officer not below the rank of secretary to the government of India and has one year of experience in legal affairs or administration of criminal justice.
The scope of power exercised by the review committee is limited to section 36 of UAPA i.e. De- notification of a terrorist organization[v].

The committee may review the order of central government who have rejected the application of organization or affected person to remove an organization from the schedule list. The committee may review the order of central government if it is of the opinion that the government was flawed in rejecting such application and the central government may remove the organization on the basis of the order of review committee. It can also review every order of central government authorizing for interception of communication.

It had power to make order and direction upon an application whether there is a prima fascia case for proceeding against the accused and if prima fascia case is not made out then the pending proceeding against the accused shall withdraw from the date of such direction. Therefore, the POTA amendment 2003 empowered the review committee to even interfere in investigation and trial and its order was binding on the investigation officer and central/state government.

Punishments under UAPA Act

  • Terrorist Act
    1. If death occurs: punishable with death or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.
    2. Other cases: punishable with imprisonment for 5 years which may extend to life imprisonment and shall also be liable for fine.

  • Organising Terrorist Act
    Imprisonment of at least 5 years, may extend to life imprisonment and shall also be liable for fine

  • Being a member of terrorist gang
    Life imprisonment or shall also be liable for fine

  • Holding proceeds of terrorist
    Life imprisonment or shall also be liable for fine.

  • Threating witness
    Imprisonment of at least 3 years, which may extend to life imprisonment and shall also be liable to pay fine.

  • For Harbouring
    Imprisonment of at least 3 years, which may extend to life imprisonment and shall also liable for fine.

  • For conspiracy
    Imprisonment of at least 5 years, which may extend to life imprisonment and shall also liable for fine[vi].

Recent Famous arrest under UAPA

  1. Masrat Zahra, journalist, in 2020
  2. Gowhar Geelani, Kashmiri author and journalist, in 2020
  3. Meeran Haider and safoora Zargar, student activist, 2020
  4. Asif Iqbal Tanha, student Activist of Jamia Millia islamia and a leader of student Islamic organisation of India was arrested on 16th may 2020

End-Notes:
  1. Unlawful Activities Prevention Act,1967
  2. Unlawful Activities Prevention Act: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/UAPA-1967_0.pdf
  3. Section 43, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,1967: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/107536610/
  4. Section 44, Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act,1967: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/125621760/
  5. Role of Review committee: https://www.indiacode.nic.in/show-data?
  6. Punishments under UAPA,1967: https://www.indiacode.nic.in/handle/123456789/1470?

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