Online Courses (English)
This just in:

State PCS

Daily Updates

Internal Security

UAPA Tribunal Upholds Centre’s Decision to Ban PFI

  • 01 Apr 2023
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: major provisions of UAPA, UAPA Tribunal.

For Mains: role of non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security, growth of extremism, govt. Response.

Why in News?

Recently, five months after its constitution, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal upheld the Centre's decision to ban Popular fronts of India and its affiliates.

What is the Background of the Issue?

  • In September 2022, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a gazette notification declared the PFI an “unlawful association” along with “its associates or affiliates or fronts.
  • The notification issued by the MHA imposed a ban on the PFI and its associate organizations, including the Rehab India Foundation (RIF) and Campus Front of India, for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.

What is UAPA?

  • About:
    • The UAPA is aimed at prevention of unlawful activities association in India. Its main objective is dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India. It is also known as Anti-terror law.
      • Unlawful activities refer to any action taken by an individual or association intended to disrupt the territorial integrity and territorial sovereignty in India.
    • The act assigns absolute power to the central government and provides for death penalty and life imprisonment as the highest punishments.
  • Major Provisions of the UAPA:
    • UAPA provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things; the central government may designate an individual/organization as a terrorist/terrorist organization if it:
      • Commits/participates in acts of terrorism,
      • Prepares for terrorism,
      • Promotes terrorism, or
      • Is otherwise involved in terrorism.
    • 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.
      • Additionally, 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.
      • It empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases in addition to those conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above
  • Procedure Followed:
    • The declaration of an association as unlawful is communicated through a gazette notification and by affixing a copy on the association's offices or through loudspeakers in the area where the association conducts its activities.
      • The notification remains valid for five years from the date of publication, subject to the tribunal's order under the UAPA.
    • When the Centre declares an organization as unlawful, a tribunal is established by the Center to further investigate and confirm whether the decision is justified.
      • The notification by the Centre does not take effect until the tribunal confirms the declaration and the order is published in the official gazette.
    • The government must send the notification to the tribunal within 30 days of issuing the gazette notification to have the ban ratified.
      • Additionally, the MHA must refer to the Tribunal along with the cases that the NIA, Enforcement Directorate, and state police forces have registered against the association and its members across the country.

What is the UAPA Tribunal?

  • The UAPA provides for a tribunal to be constituted by the government for its bans to have long-term legal sanctity.
    • It is headed by a retired or sitting judge of a High Court.
  • On receiving notification from the Centre, the Tribunal calls upon the concerned association to show cause, within 30 days from the date of the service of such Centre’s notice, that why it should not be declared unlawful.
    • After hearing arguments from both sides, the Tribunal can hold an inquiry to decide within 6 months whether there is sufficient evidence to declare an association unlawful association.
  • Under the UAPA, the Centre's notification cannot have an effect until the tribunal confirms the declaration in its order.

What are the Criticisms of the UAPA?

  • Lack Of Substantive and Procedural Process: Section 35 of UAPA allows government to list any individual as a terrorist. The government may do so, based on only major suspicion and without any process.
    • The vague powers of State to detain and arrest individuals who it believes to be indulged in terrorist activities gives itself more powers vis-a-vis individual liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Indirect Restriction on Right to Dissent: The right to dissent is a part and parcel of the fundamental right to free speech and expression and therefore, cannot be abridged in any circumstances except for mentioned in Article 19 (2).
    • The Amendment to UAPA in 2019 empowered the ruling government, under the garb of curbing terrorism, to impose indirect restriction on the right to dissent which is detrimental for a developing democratic society.
  • Time Consuming: In almost 43% of the cases, the charge sheet has taken more than a year or two to be filed. This has led to a delay in getting justice.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Q. Analyze the multidimensional challenges posed by external state and non state actors to the internal security of India. Also discuss the measures required to be taken to combat these threats. (2021)

Q. Indian government has recently strengthened the anti-terrorist laws by amending UAPA 1967 and NIA act. Analyze the changes in the context of prevailing security environment while discussing scope and the reasons for opposing UAPA by human rights organizations. (2019)

Source: IE

SMS Alerts
Share Page