The government has designated chief commander of terrorist outfit Al-Umar Mujahideen, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar as a terrorist under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
He was one of the released terrorists in the year 1999 Indian Airlines Flight hijacking crisis, in exchange for the hostages of Indian Airlines Flight.
In its notification, Union Home Ministry said, Zargar has been running an incessant campaign from Pakistan to fuel terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and is a threat to peace, not only to India but across the world, with his contacts and proximity to radical terrorist groups.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 (UAPA 2019), amended the UAPA, 1967 and that has made it possible for the Union Government to designate individuals as terrorists without a due process of law.
About UAPA –
It is a law which is aimed at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
It empowered appropriate authorities to declare any association as ‘unlawful’ if it is carrying out ‘unlawful activities’.
This law was comprehensively amended by the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2004 to deal with terrorist activities. Like POTA, it defines a ‘terrorist act’ and also defines a “terrorist organisation” as an organisation listed in the Schedule or an organisation operating under the same name as an organisation so listed.
It further provides a mechanism for forfeiture of the proceeds of terrorism apart from providing stringent punishments for terrorism related offences.
Further, it is amended in by Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019. Thus, at present the only Union Legislation dealing specifically with terrorism is the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2019.
Amendments to UAPA –
The Act has been amended to provide special procedures to deal with terrorist activities and individuals and groups that foster terrorism in India.
Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it –
commits or participates in acts of terrorism,
prepares for terrorism
promotes terrorism or
is otherwise involved in terrorism.
The act additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism. The amendment has now added that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency, the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.
Under the Act, investigation of cases may be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
The act additionally empowers the officers of the NIA of the rank of Inspector or above to investigate cases.
The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act. The act adds another treaty to the list. This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).