Application of the UAPA in certain cases has caused concerns regarding its alleged “misuse”, and the rational answer would be to find ways to check “misuse”.
Issues with UAPA
- The police often use Section 13 in conjunction with other sections of the law.
- Vague and undefined terms: Besides the usual inventory of well-defined verbs in S.13(1), such as “commits”, “advocates”, “abets”, “advises”, “incites” or “takes part”, there is S.13(2) which reads: “Whoever, in any way, assists any unlawful activity of any association declared unlawful… shall be punished.”
- What does “in any way” mean? S.2(o), which defines “unlawful activity” does so in even more vague terms, as anything done by a person, whether as an act, or words, verbally, through signs or otherwise.
- What does “otherwise” mean? Likewise, S.39 criminalises support to a terrorist organisation, where “support” is not even defined!
- Wide and arbitrary powers: The semantic slippages are politically convenient as the UAPA vests extremely wide and arbitrary powers in the government to label something an “unlawful activity”.
- The political “use” of UAPA is scripted into the law itself, and the question of “misuse” does not arise.
- Application of UAPA triggers a host of draconian procedures effectively barring bail, reversing burden of proof.
The conviction rate of 2.2 per cent testifies to how the UAPA enacts the process as punishment. It is time for political parties to eschew their blinkered approach and make an effort to repeal this unlawful law.