SC to hear petitions against terror law amendment - GulfToday

SC to hear petitions against terror law amendment

Building of Indian Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court of India will examine the constitutional validity of the amended anti-terror law under which individuals can be declared as terrorists and their properties seized.

The Supreme Court of India will examine the constitutional validity of the amended anti-terror law under which individuals can be declared as terrorists and their properties seized.

The court on Friday agreed to hear a bunch of petitions challenging the amendment to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Ashok Bhushan issued notices to the Central government.

The UAPA Amendment Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on July 24 and in the Rajya Sabha on Aug.2.

The bill empowers the government to declare individuals as terrorists as well as to seize their properties and impose a travel ban on them.

It received President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent on Aug.9.

The petitions, filed by Sajal Awasthi and an NGO, Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), challenge the amendements on various grounds.

They infringed upon fundamental rights of citizens and empowered agencies to declare persons a terrorist, the petitioners argue.

The APCR plea goes on to submit that conferring of such “discretionary, unfettered and unbound” powers upon the government, so as to notify an individual as a terrorist, is also against the right to equality as enshrined in the Constitution under Article 14.

“Notifying an individual as a terrorist without giving him an opportunity of being heard violates the individual’s right to reputation and dignity, which is a facet of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

Condemning a person unheard on a mere belief of the government was unreasonable, unjust, unfair, excessive, disproportionate and violated the due process.

Section 35 of the amended Act did not mention when a person could be designated as terrorist.

The petition contended that the amendments were grossly disproportionate and had no rational nexus between the objects and means adopted to meet them. The petition sought a direction from the court declaring sections 35 and 36 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act as unconstitutional and void as those violated the fundamental rights of individuals.

The Parliament in the budget session had passed the amendments in the UAPA which empowers government agencies to declare a person as terrorist.

On Wednesday, Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and two others were declared terrorists individually by the government under the new anti-terror law.

The UAPA, 2019 provides for seizure of properties and putting a travel ban on such individuals once they are declared as terrorists. The government has claimed that the law is in conformity with the international standards and UN convention.

An individual designated as a terrorist can appeal to the Union home secretary who will decide on the appeal within 45 days.

The individual listed as terrorist can also approach a review committee headed by a sitting or retired judge with at least two retired secretaries of the Government of India as members.

The government will take action against a declared terrorist, like seizing his assets etc.

The data of the individuals who would be proscribed as terrorist will be shared with foreign governments.

Separately, the Supreme court on Friday dismissed a plea seeking quashing of proceedings in the Ayodhya matter.

“What kind of prayer is this? Look at your prayers!” a Bench headed by Gogoi said while rejecting the plea filed by the Intercontinental Association of Lawyers..

The petitioner had also sought lodging of a first information report (FIR) against the appellant.

A five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Gogoi, is hearing the matter related to Ayodhya land dispute. After a mediation panel failed to resolve the issue, the Bench has been hearing the case on the daily basis since Aug.6.

Resmi Sivaram/Agencies

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