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Plea in SC challenging validity of amendments to UAPA

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

A plea was filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday challenging the constitutional validity of the amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on the ground that these infringed upon the fundamental rights of citizens.

The bill for amendments to the UAPA was passed by Parliament on August 2 and it received the President's ascent on August 9. The amended Act allows the Centre to designate individuals as terrorists and seize their properties.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 also provides for putting a travel ban on such individuals once they are declared as terrorists.

The petition has been filed by the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), an NGO, which said the amendments infringed upon the fundamental right to reputation and dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution, without substantive and procedural due process.

"Notifying an individual as a terrorist without giving him an opportunity of being heard violates the individual's right to reputation and dignity, which is a facet of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution," the plea said.

It added that condemning a person unheard on a mere belief of the government was unreasonable, unjust, unfair, excessive, disproportionate and violated the due process.

"A person who is designated a terrorist, even if he is de-notified subsequently, faces a lifelong stigma and this tarnishes his reputation for life," the plea filed through advocate Fauzia Shakil said.

It further said section 35 of the amended Act did not mention when a person could be designated as terrorist.

"Whether on a mere registration of an FIR or upon conviction in a terrorism related case, designating a person as a terrorist on a mere belief of the government is arbitrary and excessive. A person is never informed of the grounds of his notification, so the remedy of challenging his notification under section 36, as provided for in the Act, is rendered practically otiose," the plea said.

The petition contended that the amendments were grossly disproportionate and had no rational nexus between the objects and means adopted to meet them.

"It is unclear as to what legitimate aim does the state seek to achieve by declaring a person as a terrorist without even providing an efficacious remedy to challenge his notification," it said.

The petition sought a direction from the court declaring sections 35 and 36 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act as unconstitutional and void as those violated the fundamental rights of individuals.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, August 22 2019. 19:20 IST