‘Bill cannot stand test of procedure’

I am opposed to the Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Bill as some of its provisions are so draconian they cannot stand the test of procedure.

Published: 03rd August 2019 02:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd August 2019 08:37 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

I am opposed to the Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Bill as some of its provisions are so draconian they cannot stand the test of procedure.Article 21 of the Constitution states: “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.” The Bill violates this right given by the Constitution because the government can now brand individuals as terrorists without adhering to any procedure laid down by law. The Maneka Gandhi judgement was a landmark one which played the most significant role towards the transformation of the judicial view on Article 21.

I am totally opposed to this Bill because it runs the serious risk of being declared unconstitutional in view of the fact that Entry 1 of the State List includes public safety and law and order. In the Bill, the National Investigation Agency is now authorised to go into any state and begin their operation without consent of the state or the state police. This has a real danger of bringing the state police and central forces on a collision course. This should be avoided. 

Clause 5 of the Bill empowers the central government to notify any individual as a terrorist. The other serious objection that I have is the power being conferred for declaring an individual as a terrorist only on the ground that it believes a person is a terrorist. 

There has to be cogent evidence and that is required to be produced before a tribunal headed by a judge. It has to show what the cogent evidence is. The cogent evidence will be analysed by the advisory board and only then a person can be declared so. A terrorist is much more than being even a proclaimed offender. It has serious consequences. Due to this, death penalty can be awarded to anyone. Anyone can execute anyone. This is not just and fair. Another concerning factor is that the government can declare all civil societies and “urban naxals” as terrorists.

The government should reconsider some clauses of the Bill as the chances of its misuse are very high. The Bill has huge lacunae. The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act was struck down after it was misused for a long period of time. This Bill could also face the same fate.

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