UAPA Bill Passed in Rajya Sabha: Gives Govt Power to Declare Individuals as Terrorist

The Rajya Sabha today passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention), UAPA Amendment Bill that enables the government to designate individuals as terrorists, even as the Opposition said it would infringe on the liberty of a person. Addressing the Rajya Sabha, Congress leader P Chidambaram said: “If you see reasons for amendment, it says ‘to empower NIA’. In passing you say ’empowers Centre to add or remove an individual’s name as a terrorist’, this mischief is why we are opposing this amendment, we are not opposing UAPA bill .

He added that it would be better for the government to hear them out in Parliament instead of “forcing us to go to a building a kilometre away” — referring to the Supreme Court. Chidambaram also said courts would strike down the amendment as it was against the rights of a person and was based on just the government’s “belief” that he/she was a terrorist. The Congress veteran said it was wrong to compare a terrorist like Hafiz Saeed with activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case.

Several opposition parties have staunchly opposed the bill expressing concerns about its “draconian” provisions. The Lok Sabha last week saw a bitter debate unfold between the two sides as the opposition leaders kept pressing that the law could be used against anyone who opposed the government.

Home Minister Amit Shah at the time had countered their concerns asserting that the anti-terror laws would only be used to root out terrorism. In a controversial statement, he had also said, “There are crores of people who are working as social activists or workers…they are never being targeted (by the police). But there are a few who work for the urban Maoists and these people won’t be spared.”