'There Will be Repercussions': Chidambaram Says UAPA Bill Unconstitutional, Congress Will Move SC
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, the former union minister said the proposed amendment to UAPA violates the rights of an individual and if the Bill is passed in the Upper House, the Congress will move the Supreme Court.
File photo of former union minister P Chidambaram.
New Delhi: Strongly opposing the new clause in the anti-terror legislation UAPA that gives the government power to designate an individual as a “terrorist”, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday said the amendment is unconstitutional and warned that the power can be misused.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, the former union minister said the amendment violates the rights of an individual and if the Bill is passed in the Upper House, the Congress will move the Supreme Court. The Bill was passed nearly an hour after his address in the House. The Lok Sabha had given its nod to the amendment to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA), Bill 2019, on July 29.
“There will be serious repercussions in naming an individual a terrorist... this amendment will be struck down. It is unconstitutional. If this bill is passed then we will move to the building that is a kilometre from here (SC),” he said.
The changes to the UAPA have prompted concerns as the Bill would empower the central government to designate an individual a “terrorist” if they are found committing, preparing for, promoting, or involved in an act of terror by listing the name in the official gazette without giving the person a chance to be heard and waiting for a court conviction.
Earlier, the UAPA allowed the government to only proscribe organisations.
The Bill does not specify the standard of proof required to establish that an individual is involved or is likely to be involved in terrorist activities and also does not require that cases be filed against the individual before designating them as terrorists.
Several opposition parties and civil liberties’ lawyers have criticised the amendment and said it can be used to muzzle dissent and crackdown on civil liberties.
Amit Shah stressed on the need to pass the Bill to root out terrorism and said banned outfits often change their names. “So, there’s a need for a provision to declare an individual as a terrorist,” he said. He said there will be a four-stage scrutiny before the Bill is passed and pointed out that US, China, Pakistan, United Nations and the European Union also designate individuals as terrorists.
But Chidambaram questioned the intent of the government and attributed “mischief” to the government move to brand individuals as terrorists without due process.
“Who will the Centre name a terrorist? You cannot compare Hafiz Saeed and Gautam Navlakha,” he said. Navlakha was an activist who was booked and arrested under UAPA by Pune Police for alleged links to Naxals.
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