Anti Terrorism Laws in India

Irfan`s acquittal came as the anti-terrorism law comes under increasing scrutiny by Indian courts and legal experts. The law allows authorities to label and arrest someone as a terrorist without providing incriminating evidence. It also has strict requirements for granting bail, which means that individuals often spend months, sometimes years, in prison without being convicted. Everything seemed to be going well until August 2012, when an anti-terror team broke into his shop in Nanded, a town in the Indian state of Maharashtra, and arrested him for allegedly planning to kill Indian politicians. For the first few months, he waited for the Indian judicial system to prove his innocence. But the prospects for an acquittal quickly became bleak when he was charged under the country`s harsh anti-terrorism law. Prior to his arrest in May last year, Tanha, 24, had participated in massive protests against the government`s controversial citizenship law, culminating in deadly unrest in the Indian capital. Many activists were arrested in a large-scale raid for “inciting violence” and Tanha was charged under the anti-terrorism law. A year later, when the court granted him bail, he concluded that dissent was not terrorism. “How can a fragile old man who fought for people`s rights be accused of terrorism?” said Father Cedric Prakash, an activist who has worked with Swamy for more than four decades. Known as the Prevention of Illegal Activities Act, the Anti-terrorism Act was first introduced in 2008 by the now opposition Congress Party. In 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s government amended the law, allowing authorities to classify individuals as terrorists.

Previously, the designation was reserved for organizations only. India`s draconian anti-terrorism law, known as UAPA, has been criticized by human rights organizations for stifling the freedoms of civil society actors. “While anti-terrorism and national security laws must be used for the sovereignty and protection of the state, in India they are used for the sovereignty and protection of a political party,” Prakash told DW. The amendment provides for a 180-day detention period and the denial of bail for any foreigner accused of terrorism in India. An Indian national accused of the crime would not be released on bail unless the prosecutor had an opportunity to be heard. The bill allows the authorities to freeze and seize the assets of the defendant and companies involved in terrorism or suspected of terrorism. The use of explosives, firearms, lethal weapons or toxic chemicals, including biological or radiological weapons, with the intention of supporting, inciting or committing terrorist acts shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years. But last month, while awaiting bail on medical grounds, an 84-year-old Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist died in judicial custody. He had been detained under the anti-terrorism law since 2020. In recent months, there have been few cases in which courts have granted bail to defendants under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

In June, the Delhi Supreme Court ordered the release on bail of three student activists: Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha. The United Nations has expressed concern about India`s use of counter-terrorism laws to crack down on human rights defenders. The NIA at the federal level would investigate terrorist crimes and other acts that have an impact on national security. Agency officials will have special powers to prosecute and investigate such a crime across the country. They have special duties, responsibilities, privileges and responsibilities. The opposition BJP party, while supporting the bill, said its wording is a tacit recognition by the government of the opposition`s longstanding demand for a strict anti-terrorism law. Fundraising in India or abroad for terrorist activities would carry a five-year prison sentence to life imprisonment. A similar penalty for the organization of terrorist training camps is also provided for in the bill. (Draft Law on the Establishment of a National Anti-Terrorist Investigation Agency, HINDUSTAN TIMES, 16 December 2008, available at The UAPA allows Indian authorities to arrest people without providing incriminating evidence and sets strict requirements for bail. (19 December 2008) After the terrorist attack on Pakistani nationals on the 26th. In November 2008, in Mumbai, the Cabinet of the Government of India introduced two new bills in Parliament on 16 December 2008.

One of the bills aims to create a National Investigative Authority (NIA) with special powers. The other amends the Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act to provide for strict measures against terrorism. Rupert Colville, spokesman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned last week of India`s “crackdown on civil society actors” and the use of “comprehensive counter-terrorism measures” under its counter-terrorism legislation – the Prevention of Illegal Activities Act (UAPA). India`s Home Ministry did not respond to requests for comment. The government argues that the law is necessary to combat terrorism. .

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