The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 which was recently amended has become a source of debate among the various Human Rights organizations across the country. The recent arrest of the 2 students at Kozhikode, Kerala with no proper evidence on the basis of this Act was yet another demonstration of the misuse of the Act’s provisions. The accusation against them were based on a few literary articles about certain leftist ideologies that were formed with them, which lawfully is considered to be anti-national.
The Act basically condemns 2 types of activities: Terrorist Activities and Unlawful Activities. The biggest flaw in the Act, which was rightfully pointed out by the speakers is that there is no proper definition for what an unlawful activity is. It is therefore the liberty of the investigating officer to decide whether an act is unlawful or not. This empowers the NIA (National Investigating Agency) to label anyone suspected to have terror links a terrorist. This Act to a large extend curtails the Right to Freedom of Expression that has been given by Article 19 of the Constitution of India. Several people have been arrested under the provisions of this Act just for having material (this includes the works of Mao and others) and for having read up on or researched on topics that are the investigating officer considers unlawful or anti-national. The recent amendment to the Act was done with the motive of upholding the sovereignty and integrity of the State, but all that has happened is curtailment of free speech and material property.
2 important sections of the UAPA Act was elaborated on by the speakers. The provisions of 1 of these sections extend power to both the NIA and police officers to arrest those who merely possess any material or expresses their views on a certain topic. The other section empowered the officers to deem an organisation illegal if suspected to have tie up with an anti-national organisation. The most shocking part of the Act is that it any crime registered under this Act is non- bailable offence. The person is also stripped of his or her property as it can be seized under the ambit of this Act.
The history of the current UAPA legislation can be traced as the following, the first UAPA Act, the TADA Act, the POTA Act up till the recent amendment that made the Act sharper and stricter. It is stated that approximately half of the arrests and fake encounters are devised by the government to draw the media attention and thereby public attention shifts from their fallacies and flaws to something untrue and unimportant. The draconian nature of the UAPA cannot be further ignored. The fact that sedition law is being misused and is therefore posing a hinderance of exercise of free speech is a blatant violation of the Constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech and expression that is protected under Article 19. The need for sedition law in the country is not being denied, right to freedom of speech and expression cannot be an absolute right, there needs to be legislations that help deal with the anti-national activities that occur. However, such legislations ought to be fool proof. There cannot be lacunae and most definitely cannot be misused as per political vendetta.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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