Congress MP Shashi Tharoor today introduced a Private Member’s Bill in the Lok Sabha seeking to repeal the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Terming the UAPA a tool of abuse, Tharoor cited abysmally low conviction rates among other factors to appeal to the government to repeal the Act.
“It’s (UAPA) a tool of abuse in which 66% of cases involve no violence, 56% are detained w/no charge-sheet for two years & conviction rate since 2014 is an abysmal 2.4%. A blot on our democracy,” Tharoor said in a tweet.
According to the Bill, the UAPA has opened doors to gross abuse of power. “The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) has opened the door to a gross abuse of power that is in contravention of the standards set by article 21 of the Constitution of India and international counter-terrorism legislation,” the Bill states.
It further points out that following the 2019 amendment to the UAPA, the state now commands the” power to designate individuals as ‘terrorists’, which was previously restricted to naming groups as ‘terrorist organisation’.” According to the Bill, the Act also allows for searches, seizures and arrests based on the ‘personal knowledge’ of the police without written validation from a superior judicial authority.
“UAPA has become a tool of repression – a weapon to keep people entangled in the legal system and place people in jails for as long as the state wants. The state owes a duty of care to its citizens and the fear of dissent and criticism is no excuse to violate fundamental rights and impinge on natural freedoms. Behind the facts, figures, and analysis lies the human cost at the heart of a draconian and unjust act, such as the UAPA. Such a law, which is a weapon of misuse and abuse, has no place in a democracy,” it reads.
The Bill, however, seeks no interference in cases already registered under the Act. “This Act shall not affect the validity, invalidity, effect or consequences of anything already done or suffered, or any right, title, obligation or liability already acquired, accrued or incurred, or any remedy or proceeding in respect thereof, or any release or discharge of or from any debt, penalty, obligation, liability, claim or demand, or any indemnity already granted, or the proof of any past act or thing,” it said.