A bill which seeks to allow an individual suspected to have terror links to be designated as a ‘terrorist’ was introduced in Lok Sabha on Monday even as the opposition said the provision could prove to be draconian.
Opposing the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, N K Premchandran (RSP) claimed that in the name of tackling terror, fundamental rights of an individual cannot be foregone.
He said there is no clarity on government’s claims that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) finds it difficult to deal with such individuals at present. He said the House should not be kept in the dark on difficulties being faced by the anti-terror agency.
Shashi Tharoor (Cong) described the amendment bill as “hastily brought”. He said there were several provisions in laws in place to go after individuals.
Tharoor also accused the government of failing to take up pre-legislative consultation before brining in the bill.
He said late Atal Bihari Vajpayee was also opposed to such a provision and the BJP-led government should keep in mind the views of the veteran leader.
Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy, who introduced the bill on behalf of Home Minister Amit Shah, said when the United Nations can name Jamaat-ud_Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed as a terrorist, why can’t India do the same with such people.
Asserting that the government believes in “zero tolerance” towards terrorism, the minister said a provision is needed to designate “individual terrorist” in the law.
Rejecting claims that there was no pre-legislative consultation, the minister said the draft bill was uploaded (perhaps on the Home Ministry website) in December 2016.
Taking a dig at the opposition, Home Minister Shah said perhaps the opposition would like to withdraw objections as these would not look good in records of Lok Sabha. Apparently, he was suggesting that opposition on provisions to check terror was not fair.
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, once passed, would give more teeth to the NIA in dealing with terror cases, government sources have maintained.