“In view of escalated terrorist attacks in the recent years, the enactment of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) would not have been more contextual and timely.” Comment.
The latter half of 2008 witnessed a series of terrorist attacks in various cities of the country, including Bangalore, New Delhi, Guwahati and Mumbai. The attack on Mumbai was so intense that it did what 20 other terrorist strikes on the Indian mainland outside the State of J & K during the last four years could not do. It coaxed the UPA government to introduce a new anti-terrorist law called Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The new anti-terror Act has several provisions that were part of POTA. These include detention without bail upto 180 days, police custody for the accused upto 30 days, no provision for bail for foreign nationals arrested under the UAPA and no bail for the Indian nationals if the court is satisfied that the allegation is prima facie true.
In addition to the above provisions similar to POTA, a few new clauses have also been added. These have been incorporated on the basis of various suggestions received over the years. The government also tried to cover the contingencies and criminal acts related to terrorism which have not been appropriately covered under other laws of the land. The new Act also has the provision for 10 years’ imprisonment for getting explosives, radioactive substances, nuclear devices etc with the intention of abetting the terrorist acts. UAPA also has provision for life imprisonment for organizing terrorist camps or for recruiting any person for any act of terrorism.
It must, however, be understood that special anti-terror Acts like UAPA act only as deterrent and the terror attacks cannot be stopped just by having stringent legislative Acts. To prevent the terrorist attacks the country has to take preventive measures. First and foremost could be to beef up the security at soft target points. In addition, there is a need for having a foolproof intelligence system so that any conspiracy immediately becomes known to the security agencies. People also have to be vigilant towards any such attempts.