It is a matter of tremendous satisfaction that the Rajya Sabha has passed the Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill. This comes after days of acrimonious exchanges between the treasury benches and the opposition. The noteworthy point in this statute is the designation of a person as a terrorist. The opposition demanded there was no need to designate a person as a terrorist when terrorist organisations are known the world over.
To this there was a cogent response that despite the organisations being identified, they do change their names. Individuals who subscribe to their philosophy also change their names. Therefore, there is an absolute need to designate a person as a terrorist as per the requirement of this new law.
Another aspect of the UAPA Bill is that the National Investigation Agency will only inform the state police before taking action as per their own intelligence inputs. This seems to be a sound move as some states are not serious when it comes to handling terrorists, terrorism and terror outfits.
The government clarified that the designation of a person as a terrorist will not be whimsical or knee-jerk. It will be a four-tier approach and there will be four levels at which a person will be designated a terrorist. Also, in view of the large number of acquittals by various courts in terror cases, it is expedient to have these amendments.
It is a well known fact that TADA and POTA were misused. In this case, too, there needs to be checks and balances to ensure there is no misuse of this well drafted statute. Therefore, it is suggested that it must have three aspects. First, if there is gross misuse the action that will be taken or can be taken against delinquent officials should be spelt out.
Second, there should be scope for judicial intervention and scrutiny. Third, this law should be applied at the level of a Superintendent of Police or a higher ranked officer and should be closely supervised by an Inspector General of Police. In the course of time, like any other law, this will be fine-tuned and it will evolve with time and exposure but the apprehensions need to be put at rest so that it is a people-friendly law.