Updated: September 16, 2020 6:58:41 am
Delhi police on Monday took 10 days of credit for former Jawaharlal Nehru (JNU) University student Umar Khalid, who was arrested the day before in a case registered under the Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Khalid is one of several young activists who have reserved cases related to the violence in Delhi in February. Police have called in UAPA provisions to investigate the alleged biggest conspiracy after the riots.
What is UAPA, and what is it used for?
UAPA is primarily an anti-terror law that aims to more effectively prevent some illegal activities of individuals and associations and to tackle terrorist activities. It was first promulgated in 1967 to target secessionist organizations and is considered to be the forerunner of laws such as the Terrorism and Disturbance Activities (TADA) Act (now repealed) and the Terrorism Prevention Act (POTA). .
Changes from time to time have made UAPA stricter. After the last change in 2019, an individual can be designated a terrorist; only organizations could be designated earlier. UAPA cases are tried by a special court.
The law has been used in cases other than those of conventional terrorism or terrorist acts. He has been called in late against activists, student leaders and journalists. UAPA cases have been raised against activists in the Bhima-Koregaon case; at least two journalists in Kashmir; Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, female student members and former student collective Pinjra Tod; former Municipal Municipal Councilor Ishrat Jahan; Khalid Saifi of the United Organization Against Hate; Student and Jamia Millia Islamia Safoora Zargar; and now, Umar Khalid.
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What does the police say in the registered case against Khalid and others?
The investigation is based on FIR 59 of 2020, which included IPC Sections 302 (murder) 153A (promoting enmity between different groups because of religion, etc.), 124A (insurrection) and others.
The crux of the police matter is that the February 2020 municipal riot incidents in Delhi were pre-planned by Khalid and others. Khalid is accused of delivering provocative speeches and inciting people to take to the streets to ensure that persecuted minority propaganda in India can be published during US President Donald Trump’s visit (February 24-25).
Police have also allegedly gathered evidence against the accused in the form of WhatsApp conversations allegedly used in the execution of the plot, alleged witness statements and evidence of receiving funds from inside India and overseas.
Read also | Prior to UAPA arrest, urgent farewell to Umar Khalid’s home
What UAPA provisions are used in FIR?
Sections 13, 16, 17 and 18 of UAPA were subsequently added to the issue.
The Act defines illegal activity as any act spoken or written of words, signs or apparent representation which aims at or supports any claim to bring about the secession of any part of India or which incites anyone towards secession; renounces, interrogates, interrupts or intends to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India; and that causes or intends to cause resentment against India.
The word dissatisfaction is not defined in law, and finds mention only once.
Section 13 (Punishment for Illegal Activity), which has been invoked against Khalid and others, provides for up to seven years in prison for anyone who protects, supports, advises, or encourages the commission of any illegal activity.
Section 16 (Punishment for a terrorist act) specifies the death penalty or life imprisonment in the event that a death has occurred as a result of the offense. The law defines a terrorist act as an act that is intended to or is likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India, and causes or is likely to cause death or injury and property damage.
Section 17 provides for the punishment for raising funds for terrorist acts and Section 18 deals with conspiracy behind the terrorist act or any preparatory act for the commission of a terrorist act.
How does the Delhi Police justify the call for anti-terror law?
While critics have argued that the dispute or peaceful protest would not cause resentment against India, police have told the court that the riots were the result of a larger conspiracy to overload the government machinery and that the conspirators had a specific purpose, object and the mandate to cause discontent and revolt against the Government of India.
The prosecution has argued that the purpose of the protests was to destroy, destabilize and dissolve the Government of India in order to force (it) to withdraw the Citizenship Change Act (CAA) and the alleged National Register of Citizens.
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What makes UAPA stricter than other laws?
Safoora Zargar is the only one among the accused reserved under UAPA, who has been granted parole. But she was granted relief for humanitarian reasons and her bail case was not considered on a merit by the Delhi High Court.
Three individuals belonging to the People’s Front of India (PFI) were given bail in March, but that was before the addition of UAPA provisions to the issue.
It is rare for an accused to obtain parole easily in a case under UAPA. The court may refuse bail if in its opinion the matter is prima facie true. An accused may not seek prior bail and the investigation period may be extended to 180 days from 90 days at the request of the public prosecutor which means that the accused has virtually no chance of obtaining bail by default.
In UAPA cases, police custody can also be extended to 30 days compared to the 15 days allowed in ordinary criminal cases.
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