The Delhi Police arrested Prabir Purkayastha founder and Editor-in-Chief of news portal.

The Special Cell of the Delhi Police has registered a FIR in the case under Unlawful Activities Act and sections 153A and 120B of the IPC for promoting religious enmity between groups and Criminal Conspiracy, respectively.


The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, commonly known as the UAPA, is an Indian law enacted in 1967 to provide effective prevention of unlawful activities in India. The primary objective of the UAPA is to deal with activities that threaten the sovereignty and integrity of the country.

Key features and provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act
  1. Definition of Unlawful Activities: The Act defines unlawful activities, which include activities that threaten the territorial integrity and security of India. It also covers activities that undermine the sovereignty, integrity, and security of the country.
  2. Designation of Organizations and Individuals: The government has the power to designate organizations and individuals as "terrorist" if they are found to be involved in supporting or participating in unlawful activities.
  3. Powers of Detention: The Act provides for the detention of individuals for preventive reasons if there is sufficient reason to believe that they may be involved in unlawful activities. The detention can be extended with the approval of an advisory board.
  4. Amendments: The UAPA has undergone amendments to strengthen its provisions, especially in dealing with emerging threats and challenges. Amendments have been made to broaden the definition of terrorism and to enhance the government's powers.
  5. Prosecution: The Act allows for the prosecution of individuals and organizations involved in unlawful activities. It provides for stringent punishment, including the death penalty in certain cases.
  6. Forfeiture of Property: The UAPA allows for the forfeiture of property derived from, or used in, unlawful activities.
  7. International Cooperation: The Act enables cooperation with other countries in matters related to the prevention and control of unlawful activities.
Debate and Criticism of UAPA

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in India has been the subject of considerable debate and criticism, primarily due to concerns related to civil liberties, potential misuse, and the broad scope of its provisions. Here are some of the key points raised by critics:

  1. Broad and Vague Definitions: Critics argue that the definitions of terms such as "unlawful activities" and "terrorism" are broad and vaguely defined in the UAPA. This vagueness can lead to subjective interpretation, potentially allowing for misuse against individuals and groups not necessarily engaged in activities that pose a genuine threat to national security.
  2. Chilling Effect on Freedom of Expression: There are concerns that the UAPA, with its wide-ranging powers of detention and prosecution, may have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Critics argue that the law could be used to target political dissidents, activists, and journalists who express dissenting views.
  3. Preventive Detention: The UAPA allows for preventive detention, where individuals can be detained based on the suspicion that they may engage in unlawful activities in the future. Critics argue that this provision undermines the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" and can lead to arbitrary arrests.
  4. Lack of Safeguards: Critics point out that the UAPA lacks sufficient safeguards to prevent misuse of its provisions. For example, the Act grants the government the power to ban organizations, which may lead to the restriction of the activities of legitimate groups or organizations without proper oversight.
  5. Impact on Minority Communities: There have been concerns that the UAPA may disproportionately impact minority communities, leading to profiling and discrimination. Critics argue that the law may be used to target specific communities based on religious or political affiliations.
  6. Limited Judicial Review: Some critics argue that the UAPA restricts the scope of judicial review, making it difficult for individuals to challenge their detention or the designation of organizations as "terrorist." This limitation on judicial oversight is seen as a potential infringement on due process.
  7. Death Penalty Provision: The UAPA includes provisions for the death penalty in certain cases. Critics argue that the imposition of the death penalty raises human rights concerns and that such severe punishment may not be justified in all cases.

It's important to note that supporters of the UAPA argue that it is a necessary tool to combat terrorism and threats to national security.

They emphasize the importance of having robust legislation to address evolving security challenges. Legal and policy debates on the UAPA continue, and changes or amendments to the law may occur over time.

Individuals concerned about the implications of the UAPA are encouraged to stay informed about legal developments and engage in discussions on its impact on civil liberties and national security.

Way Ahead

The future trajectory with respect to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in India will likely involve a combination of legal, political, and societal considerations. The direction of developments will depend on factors such as public opinion, judicial interpretations, legislative actions, and evolving security challenges. Here are some potential aspects to consider:

  1. Legal Scrutiny and Judicial Interpretation:
    • Continued legal scrutiny: There may be ongoing legal challenges and cases that question specific provisions of the UAPA, seeking clarity and possibly amendments to ensure a balance between security concerns and protection of civil liberties.
    • Judicial interpretation: The interpretation of the UAPA by higher courts will play a crucial role in shaping its application. Courts may provide guidance on issues related to due process, individual rights, and the constitutionality of certain provisions.
  2. Public Discourse and Awareness:
    • Public discourse: Public awareness and discourse on the implications of the UAPA will likely continue. Debates on the balance between national security and individual freedoms will shape public opinion and influence policymakers.
    • Advocacy and activism: Civil society organizations, human rights activists, and legal experts may continue to advocate for changes to the UAPA to address concerns related to its potential misuse and impact on civil liberties.
  3. Legislative Amendments:
    • Legislative review: There could be calls for a comprehensive review of the UAPA to address identified shortcomings. Legislative amendments may be proposed to clarify definitions, introduce additional safeguards, and ensure the protection of individual rights.
    • Balancing national security and civil liberties: Future amendments may focus on achieving a better balance between the imperative of national security and the protection of fundamental rights.
  4. International Perspectives:
    • Global trends: India may take into consideration international best practices and standards in counter-terrorism legislation. Comparisons with the legal frameworks of other countries and engagement with international bodies could influence potential amendments.
  5. Security Dynamics:
    • Evolving threats: Changes in the nature of security threats may necessitate adjustments to the UAPA. New challenges, such as cyber threats or transnational terrorism, could lead to amendments aimed at addressing emerging risks.
  6. Human Rights Considerations:
    • Human rights impact assessment: Future discussions on the UAPA may involve a more comprehensive assessment of its impact on human rights. This could include an evaluation of the use of preventive detention, restrictions on freedom of expression, and the death penalty provision.
  7. Government Policies:
    • Political will: The stance of the government and its commitment to balancing security concerns with the protection of individual rights will play a crucial role in shaping the future of the UAPA. Political will for reform may be influenced by broader political and social dynamics.

It's important to stay informed about legal developments and engage in constructive dialogue on the implications of counter-terrorism legislation like the UAPA. As the situation is dynamic, any predictions about the future should be considered within the context of ongoing debates and evolving circumstances.

Practice Questions:

Describe key features of UAPA and examine the debate surrounding the use of it.

Posted by on 4th Oct 2023