From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : UAPA, POTA
Mains level : Counter-terrorism ops and security agencies
The Union Home Ministry has designated Hafiz Talha Saeed, son of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, chief of the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), as a terrorist under the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act (UAPA).
About Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act (UAPA)
- The UAPA is aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
- Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India
- It is an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA, which was allowed to lapse in 1995 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was repealed in 2004.
- It was originally passed in 1967 under the then Congress government led by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
- Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory. Following the 2004 amendment, “terrorist act” was added to the list of offences.
Designation of Terrorists
- The Centre had amended UAPA, 1967, in August 2019 to include the provision of designating an individual as a terrorist.
- Before this amendment, only organisations could be designated as terrorist outfits.
- Section 15 of the UAPA defines a “terrorist act” as any act committed with intent to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty of India or with intent to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country.
- The original Act dealt with “unlawful” acts related to secession; anti-terror provisions were introduced in 2004.
Who makes such designation?
- The UAPA (after 2019 amendment)seeks to empower the central government to designate an individual a “terrorist” if they are found committing, preparing for, promoting, or involved in an act of terror.
- A similar provision already exists in Part 4 and 6 of the legislation for organizations that can be designated as a “terrorist organisations”.
How individuals are declared terrorists?
- The central government may designate an individual as a terrorist through a notification in the official gazette, and add his name to the schedule supplemented to the UAPA Bill.
- The government is not required to give an individual an opportunity to be heard before such a designation.
- At present, in line with the legal presumption of an individual being innocent until proven guilty, an individual who is convicted in a terror case is legally referred to as a terrorist.
- While those suspected of being involved in terrorist activities are referred to as terror accused.
What happens when an individual is declared a terrorist?
- The designation of an individual as a global terrorist by the United Nations is associated with sanctions including travel bans, freezing of assets and an embargo against procuring arms.
- The UAPA, however, does not provide any such detail.
- It also does not require the filing of cases or arresting individuals while designating them as terrorists.
Removing the terrorist tag
- The UAPA gives the central government the power to remove a name from the schedule when an individual makes an application.
- The procedure for such an application and the process of decision-making will is decided by the central government.
- If an application filed by an individual declared a terrorist is rejected by the government, the UAPA gives him the right to seek a review within one month after the application is rejected.
- The central government will set up the review committee consisting of a chairperson (a retired or sitting judge of a High Court) and three other members.
- The review committee is empowered to order the government to delete the name of the individual from the schedule that lists “terrorists”, if it considers the order to be flawed.
- Apart from these two avenues, the individual can also move the courts challenging the government’s order.