Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019. Defended amendments to an anti-terror law, Home Minister Amit Shah said it was essential to keep law enforcement agencies one step ahead of terrorists. Responding to a debate on a bill which amends the UAPA in Lok Sabha, he also asserted that anti-terror laws would not be misused and it would be used only to root out terrorism. He also said that provision in UAPA (amendment) bill to designate a person suspected to have terror links as terrorist is necessary to root out terror.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 is the NDA.
He said, in the name of ideology, some people promote urban Maoism and the government has no sensitivity towards them. The government fights terrorism and it should not matter which party is in power, Shah said, referring to amendments made in anti-terror laws by successive governments.
The Bill proposes (rpt proposes) to amend 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 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.
Under the Act, 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.
Amendment to Schedule 4 of the UAPA will allow the NIA to designate an individual suspected to have terror links as a terrorist. As of now, only organisations are designated as 'terrorist organisations'. The bill would give more teeth to the NIA in dealing with terror cases, government sources have maintained..
Moving The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, for passage, Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy had on Tuesday said the government wants to take strict steps against terrorism for which it has adopted a 'zero tolerance' policy.
Reddy specifically stressed on three major amendments to the Act.
While the existing Act allows the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to confiscate the property of terrorists, the anti-terrorist agency has to take permission from states, he noted.
"As one terrorist has properties in different states, it takes too much time for the agency to get permission. For which I request the Parliament to amend the act to give this power to the NIA," the Minister said.
On the second amendment, Reddy said that if a terrorist organisation is banned, it opens another group with different name. "To deal with this issue, the government needs right to designate individuals as terrorists."
The amendment provides that an individual will be declared as a terrorist if he commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares, promotes or is otherwise involved in terrorism.
On the third amendment, the Minister said Deputy Superintendent-level officers are made investigating officers and this should changed to make Inspector rank officers the in-charge.