Whom does the UAPA apply to?

The UAPA applies to anyone who commits a UAPA crime in India or outside India1. It applies to Indian citizens irrespective of where the crime is committed and also includes people in Government service, and people on ships and aircrafts registered in India.

Types of persons

Apart from individuals, the UAPA also applies to2:

  • Companies
  • Firms
  • Organisations and associations of persons
  • Any agency, office or branch owned or controlled by the above.
  1. Section 1, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  2. Section 2(ec), Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]

What are unlawful activities?

An unlawful activity can be through actions, words (spoken or written), signs or visible representations, etc. An “unlawful activity” under this law can include1:

  • Anything done to bring about the surrender of Indian territory. For example, staging a coup to take over Delhi from the Government’s control.
  • Any action that supports the withdrawal of a part of Indian territory from the larger Union of India. For example, conspiring to make an Indian state an independent territory which is no longer a part of India.
  • Actions that question or disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country. For example, working with foreign agents to overthrow the government.
  • Any action which causes (or wants to cause) discontent against India. For example, publishing a book spreading misinformation and falsely discrediting the Government to incite rebellion.
  1.  Section 2(o), Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]

What is an unlawful association?

An unlawful association is a group which tries to commit or commits unlawful activities or any activity punishable under Sections 153A or 153B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Unlawful associations include:

  • Groups which encourage or assist people to participate in such activities. For example, a group who conspires to plan a terrorist attack.
  • Members who themselves participate in such activities1. For example, if a person engages in distribution of explosives for a terrorist activity.
  1.  Section 2(p), Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]

How does the Government regulate unlawful associations?

Declaring an association as unlawful

If the Central Government believes that any association is, or has become, an unlawful association, it can declare the association as unlawful by publishing an official Gazette notification, usually with reasons for declaring the association as unlawful. The Government will also send the notification to the concerned association and publish it in at least one daily newspaper in the State where the association has its head office1.

 

After putting out the notification:Step 1: Sending the notification to the Tribunal 

The Government should send the notification to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal within thirty days of its publication, to decide whether there is enough reason for declaring the association unlawful.

Step 2: Sending a notice to the association

The Tribunal will then send a written notice to the association, asking it to justify within thirty days why it should not be declared unlawful.

Step 3: Inquiry by Tribunal and Final Order

The Tribunal will inquire and decide whether there is enough reason for declaring the association unlawful. Within six months of the Gazette notification, the Tribunal will pass an order either confirming the Government’s declaration or cancelling it2. The order will be published in the official Gazette, and will be valid for five years unless the Government cancels it3.

 

  1. Section 3, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  2. Section 4, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  3. Section 6, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]

What happens if an association is declared unlawful?

Prohibiting funds:

If a person has any funds (cash or other resources) which are used for an unlawful association, the Government can pass a written order prohibiting the person from paying, delivering, transferring or dealing with them in any way. However, the Government allows such monetary dealings if they are done according to the conditions given in the  written order1.

 

Notifying places used for unlawful associations:

The Central Government can notify any place (house, building, boat etc.) that it thinks is used for an unlawful association, in the official Gazette. The District Magistrate can then:

  • Order that non-residents of the place cannot enter or be in it without the Magistrate’s permission.  If any person violates this, the Government can remove them from that place2.
  • Make a list of moveable objects found in the place (not including trivial things like beds, vessels, etc.) in the presence of two respectable witnesses. If the Magistrate thinks that such objects are for an unlawful association (such as account books of an unlawful association), they can prohibit any person from using the objects. The person can then use them only according to the Magistrate’s written orders.
  1.  Section 7, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  2. Section 8, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]

What are the punishments for unlawful associations and activities?

Crime Punishment
Committing, aiding, or instigating unlawful activities Jail time up to seven years and a fine1.
Being a member of an unlawful association, participating in its meetings, contributing to it or assisting it Jail time up to two years and a fine2.
Assisting any unlawful activity of an unlawful association Jail time up to five years and/or a fine1.
Continuing to be a member of an unlawful association or voluntarily supporting it while having any unlicensed firearms, ammunition, explosive or substance capable of mass destruction, and doing an action that causes loss of human life or serious injury to any person or property If the act leads to a person’s death –  Punishable with death or life imprisonment, and a fine.In any other case – Punishable with jail time between five years and life imprisonment, along with a fine2.
Dealing with the funds of an unlawful association after the Government has prohibited it Jail time up to three years and/or a fine3.
Violating Government orders and:

  • Using an object meant for unlawful associations; or
  • Knowingly and intentionally entering a place used for unlawful associations

 

Jail time up to one year and a fine4.
  1. Section 13, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[][]
  2.  Section 10, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[][]
  3.  Section 11, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  4. Section 12, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]

What are terrorist acts?

A terrorist act is any act done with the intention to threaten India’s unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty, or to terrorise people in India or any foreign country, by:

  • Using bombs, dynamite, explosive substances, lethal weapons, poisonous gases, other hazardous nuclear substances, etc. likely to cause:
    1. death or injuries to people
    2. property damage or destruction
    3. disruption of essential supplies or services
    4. damage to India’s monetary stability through high quality counterfeit Indian paper currency or coin
    5. damage or destruction of any property used for India’s defence or for Government purposes
  • Forcefully intimidating a public authority or causing their death
  • Detaining, kidnapping or abducting any person, and threatening to kill or injure them to force the Government or an international organisation or anyone else to act in a certain manner1.
  1.  Section 15, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]

How does the Government regulate terrorist activities?

If the Central Government believes that an organisation or person is involved in terrorism, it can notify them in the official Gazette as a terrorist or terrorist organization respectively.

The concerned person or organization can apply to the Government to denotify them. If the Government refuses,  they can apply for a review to the concerned Review Committee within one month. The Review Committee can order the Government to denotify them.

What are the punishments for terrorist activities?

Crime Punishment
Terrorist Activities If it results in death – Punishable with life imprisonment or death, along with a fineIn any other case – Punishable with jail time between five years and life imprisonment, along with a fine1
Raising funds for terrorist acts Jail time between five years and life imprisonment, along with a fine2
Organising Terrorist Camps Jail time between five years and life imprisonment, along with a fine3
Conspiracy Jail time between five years and life imprisonment, along with a fine4
Recruiting any Person(s) for Terrorist Activities Jail time between five years and life imprisonment, along with a fine5
Harbouring a Terrorist Jail time between three years and life imprisonment, along with a fine6
Associating with or Supporting a Terrorist Organization  Jail time up to ten years and/or a fine7
Raising funds for a Terrorist Organization Jail time up to fourteen years and/or a fine8
Being a Member of a Terrorist Gang or Organization Jail time up to life imprisonment and a fine9
Holding Proceeds of Terrorism Jail time up to life imprisonment and a fine10
Threatening Witnesses  Jail time between three years and life imprisonment, along with a fine11
  1. Section 16, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  2. Section 17, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  3. Section 18A Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  4. Section 18, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  5. Section 18B, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  6. Section 19, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  7. Sections 38 and 39, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  8. Section 40, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  9. Section 20, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  10. Section 21, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]
  11. Section 22, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.[]

Who investigates terrorist and unlawful activities?

Apart from the regular investigation authorities, such as the police, the Government has set up a special National Investigation Agency to investigate and prosecute offences related to explosive substances, atomic energy, nuclear weapons, unlawful activities, terrorist activities, hijacking, etc.

 

Powers of National Investigation Agency Officers

NIA officers have the power to investigate these offences and arrest people involved in such offences. NIA officers have all the powers, duties, privileges and liabilities of police officers while conducting an investigation. The administration of the NIA lies with its Director-General, who enjoys the same powers as a Director-General of Police.

While investigating any offence under the Act, the NIA can request a State government to associate itself with the investigation. The NIA can also take the approval of the Central government to transfer a case to a State government for investigation and trial. For doing this, the NIA will take into account the seriousness of the offence and other relevant factors.

 

Special Courts for NIA 

Further, the Central government can choose Session Courts in different States to function as Special Courts for the trial of NIA offences. These Special Courts are chosen in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court of the respective State. Every offence investigated by the NIA is tried by the Special Court which has authority in the local area where the offence was committed.