What it says : Act provides for declaring an association or a body of individuals “unlawful” if they indulged in any activity that envisages secession or questions or disclaims the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- A remand order can be for 30 days instead of the usual 15,
- Maximum period of judicial custody before the filing of a chargesheet is extendable from the usual 90 days to 180 days
Present issues :
- Vague Definition of Terrorist Act: The definition of a “terrorist act” under the UAPA substantially differs from the definition promoted by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism. UAPA, on the other hand, offers an overbroad and ambiguous definition of a “terrorist act” which includes the death of, or injuries to, any person, damage to any property, etc.
- Denial of Bail: The major problem with the UAPA lies in its Section 43(D)(5), which makes it difficult for any accused person to obtain bail. In case, if police have filed the chargesheet that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusation against such person is prima facie true, bail cannot be granted. Further, a Supreme Court judgment on this has clarified that the court considering bail should not examine the evidence too deeply, but must go by the prosecution version based on broad probabilities. Thus, UAPA virtually denies bail, which is a safeguard and guarantee of the constitutional right to liberty.
- Pendency of Trails: Given the state of justice delivery system in India, the rate of pendency at the level of trial is at an average of 95.5%.
- State Overreach: It also includes any act that is “likely to threaten” or “likely to strike terror in people”, giving unbridled power to the government to brand any ordinary citizen or activist a terrorist without the actual commission of these acts. It gives the state authority vague powers to detain and arrest individuals who it believes to be indulged in terrorist activities.
- Undermining Federalism: Some experts feel that it is against the federal structure since it neglects the authority of state police in terrorism cases, given that ‘Police’ is a state subject under 7th schedule of Indian Constitution.