Keeping Literature on Violence, not a terror act: SC


The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case. They had spent five years in jail.

The court highlighted that merely holding literature propagating violent acts or participation in seminars will not constitute a ‘terrorist act’ under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA),1967.

The judgment also held that mere association or the professing of association with a terror organisation is not enough to attract the offence of “membership” of such an outfit.

It held that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has to “prima facie establish” that a person is associated with a terror organisation with the intention to further its terrorist activities.

Only then can “appellants be brought within the fold of the offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation”, held a Bench headed by Justice Aniruddha Bose.



The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is an anti-terrorism law that was enacted by the Parliament of India in 1967. The primary objective of the UAPA is to prevent unlawful activities that threaten the integrity and sovereignty of India. It provides the government with legal tools to deal with activities considered to be unlawful and detrimental to the security and unity of the nation.

Key features of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967:
Definition of Unlawful Activities:

The UAPA defines "unlawful activities" and lists a range of activities that are considered unlawful. These activities include acts aimed at challenging the territorial integrity or unity of India, causing disaffection against the government, promoting secessionism, supporting terrorist organizations, and engaging in other activities that pose a threat to national security.

Declaration of Organizations as Unlawful:

The act empowers the government to declare an organization as "unlawful" if it is involved in unlawful activities or supports such activities.

Once an organization is declared unlawful, it becomes illegal, and its members can face severe penalties and restrictions.

Terrorist Organizations:

The UAPA provides a framework for declaring an organization as a "terrorist organization."

Such a declaration imposes additional legal consequences, including stringent provisions for investigation, prosecution, and punishment of individuals associated with the terrorist organization.

Investigation and Arrests:

The law grants the authorities the power to investigate and arrest individuals suspected of being involved in unlawful activities or supporting terrorist organizations.

It also provides for the establishment of special courts to deal with UAPA-related cases.

Amendments and Stringent Provisions:

The UAPA has undergone several amendments over the years to strengthen its provisions.

These amendments have broadened the scope of the act and increased the penalties for those found guilty of unlawful activities.

Controversy and Criticism:

The UAPA has faced criticism from civil rights groups, human rights activists, and some political parties.

Critics argue that the act has been misused at times to target individuals and organizations involved in legitimate dissent and activism.

Balancing Security and Civil Liberties:

One of the key challenges with the UAPA is striking a balance between national security concerns and safeguarding civil liberties.

Critics argue that the act's provisions may infringe upon fundamental rights, including freedom of speech and association.


It's important to note that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is a complex piece of legislation, and its interpretation and implementation may vary over time and across different cases. If you require legal advice or specific information about the UAPA, it is advisable to consult with a qualified legal professional or refer to the latest official sources.

Posted by on 29th Jul 2023