The Lok Sabha Wednesday passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019, amid a walkout by Congress and TMC MPs, who sought the bill be sent to a Parliamentary standing committee for scrutiny. The Bill, tabled by Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy on Tuesday, seeks to introduce a provision in the anti-terror act to designate individuals suspected to have terror links, instead of just organisations, as terrorists.
During a division of votes, demanded by AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi for consideration of the bill, as many as 287 MPs supported it and only eight opposed it.
During a debate in the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Amit Shah said the amendments were necessary to root out terror and keep the law enforcement agencies a step ahead of terrorists. Citing examples from other countries, Shah said, “UN has a procedure for it, US has it, Pakistan has it, China has it, Israel has it, European Union has it, everyone has done it.” Follow Parliament LIVE updates
Hitting out at the Congress for opposing the amendment, Shah said if the UPA was correct in amending anti-terror laws in their tenure, then so was the NDA. The Home Minister was referring to the POTA act that was repealed by the UPA government in 2004.
Shah had last week said in Parliament that the UPA government had repealed POTA for “vote bank politics”, and had the Act not been repealed 26/11 would probably not have happened.
“The only purpose of this law is to root out terrorism. We will ensure that this law will not be misused,” he said.
In his speech, Shah lashed out at people behind urban Maoism, a term used by the BJP and its ideological allies for those it blames for supporting Maoists and said the government had no sympathy for them. “In the name of ideology, some people promote urban Maoism. We have no sympathy for them,” he said.
The Congress under the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had brought in UAPA, he said, targeting the opposition party, whose members earlier questioned the rationale behind the law.
The Congress had earlier criticised the UAPA (Amendment) Bill, 2019, saying the legislation was being made more draconian by allowing individuals to be declared as terrorists rather than just organisations. The provision was also opposed by YSRCP and DMK.
The UAPA Amendment Bill, 2019, amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the director-general of police (DGP) to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.
The Bill adds that 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. The bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of inspector or above, to investigate cases.
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