Current Affairs
Daily Bits

Delhi HC calls out misuse of UAPA

  • Posted By
  • Categories
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    18th Jun, 2021


The Delhi High Court in the first instance of a court called out for alleged misuse of the UAPA against individuals in cases that do not fall in the category of "terrorism" cases.

  • The court said it in the case of three student-activists DevanganaKalita, Natasha Narwal, and AsifIqbalTanha.

Key-highlights of the Courts order              

  • Quoting sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, and a string of key Supreme Court rulings on terrorism and terror laws, the court reasoned that “the more stringent a penal provision, the more strictly it must be construed”.
  • The extent and reach of terrorist activity must travel beyond the effect of an ordinary crime and must not arise merely by causing disturbance of law and order or even public order; and must be such that it travels beyond the capacity of the ordinary law enforcement agencies to deal with it under the ordinary penal law.
  • The orders also refer to how the Supreme Court itself, in the 1994 case of Kartar Singh v State of Punjab, flagged similar concerns against the misuse of another anti-terror law, the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987.
  • Significance: By doing so, it raised the bar for the State to book an individual for terrorism under the UAPA.
  • This caution is significant given the sharp surge in the state’s use of this provision in a sweeping range of alleged offenses — against tribals in Chhattisgarh, those using social media through proxy servers in Jammu, and Kashmir; and journalists in Manipur among others.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,1967

  • It is an Indian law aimed at the 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.
  • The provisions of the UAPA Act contravene the requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • The Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963 was enacted to impose, by law, reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India. It put restrictions on the:
    • Freedom of Speech and Expression;
    • Right to Assemble peaceably and without arms; and
    • Right to Form Associations or Unions.
  • Section 15 of the UAPA defines “terrorist act” and is punishable with imprisonment for a term of at least five years to life.
  •  In case the terrorist act results in death, the punishment is death or imprisonment for life.