Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) – UPSC Prelims

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,1967:
  • It is primarily an anti-terror law – aimed at more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations and for dealing with terrorist activities.
  • It was promulgated in 1967 to target secessionist organisations. It is considered to be the predecessor of laws such as the (now repealed) Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) and Prevention of Terrorism Act(POTA).
Key Provisions of the Act:
  • The Act assigns absolute power to the central government. It can declare an activity as unlawful, by way of an Official Gazette.
  • The act has the death penalty and life imprisonment as the highest punishments.
  • The cases under the UAPA are investigated by the State police and the National Investigation Agency(NIA).
  • Under the act, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged. It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if the crime is committed on a foreign land, outside India.
  • The investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum 180 days after the arrests. This duration can be extended further after information to the court.
2004 amendment:
  • The act was amended in 2004. It added “terrorist act” to the list of offences, to ban organisations for terrorist activities.
  • Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory. Following the 2004 amendment, “terrorist act” was added to the list of offences.
2019 amendment:
  • The amendment empowers the Central Government to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds.
  • It empowers the Director-General, National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is under investigation by the agency.
  • It also empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state.
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