Delhi Convention Against Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Jul 24

July 23, 2010

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights

Invites you to a

Convention Against Unlawful Activities Prevention Act

At the Indian Law Institute

On 24th July 2010, Saturday, 10:00am – 5:00 pm

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Oppose ban on dissent, Demand repeal of UAPA

In May 2004, when the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government came to power, the repeal of POTA figured prominently in its Common Minimum Programme (CMP). POTA was repealed but through an Ordinance, the existing Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 was amended. Along with the repeal of POTA, the Parliament approved of this new law, UAPA, 2004. Like its previous avatars, POTA and TADA, UAPA is the government’s arsenal for banning all kinds of political activities which it labels as `unlawful’,`terrorist’, `anti-national’ or `seditious’. Under this new law, the existing definition of `unlawful activities’ has been widened to incorporate `terrorist activities’ and provisions for punishment and enhanced penalties for `terrorist activities’ have been included. Banning a `terrorist’ organization is easier under UAPA as the procedures are less stringent than those for banning an `unlawful organization’.

Like POTA and TADA, UAPA is being used to curb political dissent. Over 35 organizations have been banned under the law already. Most recently, the Gujarat government used it against trade union and forest rights workers. The first custodial death under UAPA happened when journalist Swapan Dasgupta, a UAPA detainee in CPI(M)-ruled West Bengal, was left to die without timely and proper medical care in early February this year. UAPA is being used to repress struggles by poor peasants and adivasis for their land and resources, against workers, minorities, civil rights activists, journalists, lawyers and students for talking about democratic rights in the public domain, and to label and ban organizations as terrorist. In short UAPA is just as undemocratic as its predecessors, and without the recourse to review that POTA and TADA provided. In the absence of a public debate that POTA had generated on its misuse, and the periodic legislative review that TADA and POTA required, UAPA has the potential to wreak greater destruction on democracy and its institutions.