Jaish-e-Mohammad chief and UN-designated terrorist Masood Azhar and Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed will be the first two individuals to be designated as terrorists once the Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Bill is cleared by the Parliament.
The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Bill with 284 votes in its favour. Once it is passed in the Rajya Sabha, it will give the government the power to designate individuals suspected to have terror links as “terrorists”.
It will also provide for seizure of properties and putting travel ban on such individuals once they are declared as terrorists.
Pakistan-based Saeed, mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, and Azhar, responsible for the recent Pulwama attack and 2001 attack on Parliament, will be the first two individuals who will be declared as terrorists once Rajya Sabha passes the Bill and the amendments come into effect, a home ministry official was quoted as saying by PTI.
The proposed law will be in conformity with the international standards and UN convention.
An individual’s proscription as terrorist will happen only after the approval of the Union Home Ministry, the official further said.
Individual designated as a terrorist can appeal to the Union Home Secretary who will have to dispose of the appeal within 45 days.
In addition, a review committee headed by a sitting or retired judge with at least two retired secretaries of the government of India as members can be approached against the decision of declaration of an individual as a terrorist.
Once designated as a terrorist, the government will take action like seizing his assets etc.
However, details of the action to be taken under the proposed law would be decided when Rules to the Act will be framed after the Bill is passed by Parliament and gets President’s assent.
The data of the individuals who would be proscribed as terrorist will be shared with foreign governments, another official said.
Defending the amendments, Home Minister Amit Shah had said that the provision in UAPA Bill to designate a person suspected to have terror links as a “terrorist” was necessary to root out terror. “This government’s primary aim is to wipe out terrorism.”
Amendments to UAPA will keep anti-terror agencies two steps ahead of terrorists, he said.
Meanwhile, the Congress MPs demanded that the bill be sent to a Standing Committee for further discussion and scrutiny.
Ther Opposition walked out in protest objecting to the amendment bill saying the law could be misused to target individuals.
In a huge diplomatic win for India, the United Nations on May 1 designated Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” after China lifted its hold on a proposal to blacklist the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief, a decade after New Delhi approached the world body for the first time on the issue.
Azhar’s JeM had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack in February which killed 40 CRPF personnel.
Meanwhile, Hafiz Saeed is the mastermind behind the Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Hafiz Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the United States, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Hafiz Saeed to justice.
Saeed was listed under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008.