On August 2, 2019, Parliament passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 with 147 members voting in favour of the bill and 42 against it. The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. It provides for special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, and empowered the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the grounds of terrorism.
- Background: It was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Amit Shah, on July 8, 2019 and was passed in the Lok Sabha on July 24, 2019.
- Powers: Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes terrorism, or is otherwise involved in terrorism.
- Approval: An investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism. If the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.
- Investigation: Investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above. The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
- Insertion to schedule of treaties: The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act. The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979). The Bill adds another treaty to the list- International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).
About Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967:
It 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.