The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2011
- August 2, 2019, 5:29 pm
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment
The Rajya Sabha on Friday passed the Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill 2019 by a majority of 147 to 42 votes, clearing decks for the National Investigation Agency to tighten its grip on terrorists. According to the statement of objects and reasons, the Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 to make it more effective in preventing unlawful activities and meet commitments made at the Financial Action Task Force (an intergovernmental organization to combat money laundering and financing).
The Bill amends the original Act to include the definition of a ‘person’. A ‘person’ shall include (i) an individual; (ii) a Hindu undivided family; (iii) a company; (iv) a firm; (v) an association of persons or a body of individuals; (vi) every artificial juridical person; (vii) any agency, office or branch owned or controlled by any person falling within any of the preceding sub-clauses.
The original Act defined ‘proceeds of terrorism’ as:
Property derived from the commission of any terrorist act or traceable to a terrorist act; and Property which is being used or is intended to be used for the purpose of a terrorist organization or terrorist gang.
The Bill replaces the second part of the above definition with ‘property which is being used, or is intended to be used for a terrorist act or for the purpose of an individual terrorist or a terrorist gang or a terrorist organization’. It also clarifies that the ‘proceeds of terrorism’ include property intended to be used for terrorism.
The Bill also expands the definition of ‘property’ by using the phrase ‘instruments in any form including but not limited to’ those listed in the original definition.
The Bill increases the period for which an association can be declared as unlawful from two years to five years.
It expands the definition of ‘terrorist act’ to include:
Acts that threaten the economic security of India and damage its monetary stability by production, smuggling or circulation of ‘high quality’ counterfeit currency. The security features that define ‘high quality’ are laid down in the Third Schedule.
Acts of demanding bombs, explosive/ inflammable substances, lethal weapons, poisonous chemicals or biological, radiological, nuclear material with the intention of aiding, abetting or committing terrorism.
Acts that involve detention, abduction, threats to kill or injure, or other actions so as to compel an international or inter-governmental organization to comply with some demand.
Acts within the scope of and defined in any of the treaties listed in the Second Schedule of the Bill.
The Bill enlarges the scope of punishment for raising funds:
Under the original Act, if a person raises or provides funds, knowing that such funds are likely to be used to commit a terrorist act, he shall be punishable with imprisonment of not less than five years and a fine.
Under the Bill, raising funds likely to be used (in full or in part) to commit a terrorist act or for the benefit of terrorists shall be punishable irrespective of whether the funds have been raised from legitimate or illegitimate sources.
The Bill clarifies that raising funds shall include production or circulation of counterfeit Indian currency. It also states that ‘participating, organising or directing’ fundraising activities shall constitute an offence.
The Bill inserts new sections to include offences by companies, societies or trusts. Every person who, at the time of the offence, was responsible for the conduct of the business shall be punishable with imprisonment for seven or more years and a fine between five to ten crore rupees.
The Bill confers additional powers upon the court to provide for attachment or forfeiture of:
Property equivalent to the counterfeit Indian currency involved in the offence.
Property equivalent to the value of the proceeds of terrorism involved in the offence.
All or any of the property of an accused, based on evidence produced before the court, in cases where the trial cannot be concluded.
The proposed amendments to the existing Act redefine “who may commit terrorism", establishing that under the bill, the Centre may designate an organization a terrorist organization if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes terrorism, or is otherwise involved in terrorism. The “burden of proof" in these cases will fall on the investigating agency, in this case the NIA. The bill also paves the way for the NIA to seize property as part of investigation into terror cases.
The UAPA Bill is an upgrade of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, or TADA, which was allowed to lapse in 1995, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), which was repealed in 2004. It was originally passed in 1967 under the then Congress government led by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Eventually, amendments were brought in under successive United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments in 2004, 2008, and 2013.