The Rajya Sabha on Friday passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019, which will enable the Central Government to notify an individual as 'terrorist'.
It was cleared with 147 'yes' votes against 42 'no' votes. The Lok Sabha had cleared the Bill on July 24 with 287 'yes' votes and 8 'no' votes.
As per the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, the government can notify organizations as terrorist organizations by including them in the First Schedule. 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 amendment seeks to empower Centre to designate individuals as terrorist on the above grounds. It proposes to add 'Fourth Schedule' to the principal Act which will include the names of individuals designated as individuals.
An individual aggrieved by the designation as terrorist has the option to challenge it before a Review Committee constituted by the Central Government.
The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
The upper house witnessed intense discussions on the Bill. Prof. Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD), P Wilson (DMK), Derek O'brein (TMC), Mir Mohammed Fayaz (PDP), Senior Advocates K T S Tulsi and P Chidambaram (Congress), Digvijay Singh (Congress) etc., spoke against the Bill on Friday. They cited instances of misuse of anti-terror laws, and said that the additional power to designate individuals as terrorists will create a huge imbalance of power in the dealings with the state machinery and ordinary citizen.
Replying to the opposition, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the amendment was necessary as banned organization often change their name and resurface as a different entity. He added that the law has in-built safeguards to ensure that it will not be misused.
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