A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court urging it to declare unconstitutional the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA) Act, 2019, notified by the Centre to designate an individual as a terrorist.
The PIL, filed by a resident of Delhi, Sajal Awasthi, said the Act is in violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 (right to equality), 19 (right to free speech and expression) and 21 (right to life) in the Constitution.
The petition contends that the new section 35 of the UAPA Act allows the Centre to categorise any individual as a terrorist and add the person’s identity in Schedule 4 of the Act. Therefore, this leads to the accumulation of huge powers which is unfettered and unbound and antithesis to Article 14 of the Constitution.
Earlier, under UAPA 1967, only an organisation could be notified as a terrorist.
The PIL further contends that the UAPA 2019 does not grant an opportunity to an individual to defend himself or herself from being categorised as a terrorist.
“The UAPA, 2019, empowers the ruling government, under the garb of curbing terrorism, to impose indirect restriction on right of dissent which is detrimental for our developing democratic society. India is a democracy and every citizen of India has a fundamental right to dissent,” said the petitioner contesting the amendment to the Act. The procedure for the categorisation of an individual as a ‘terrorist’ is flawed and devoid of any impartial approach,” he said.