'UAPA bill must go to Select Committee'

The Opposition on Thursday criticised the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019 in the Rajya Sabha. (PTI Photo)

The Opposition on Thursday pointed to the provision in Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Bill that allows designating an individual a terrorist. It questioned its logic as sufficient laws are already there to tackle it and saying it is prone to "misuse".

As the debate remained inconclusive, the bill will be taken up for discussion and passage on Friday morning.

The Congress-led Opposition insisted that the bill should go to a Select Committee for Parliamentary scrutiny.

"I support this Bill if you agree to send this to a select committee. Otherwise, I oppose it... We are not against the Bill but how will you label a person terrorist? It is not clear in the Bill... Why do you want this provision while it is already there in the existing law," senior Congress MP Kapil Sibal said.

Targeting the BJP, he said, "we have lost two Prime Ministers, one Chief Minister to terrorism. Nobody has suffered more than us. Still, we know that we should not misuse such laws...you did not have the guts to say from 1947 that (Nathuram) Godse is a terrorist."

MUST-READ: UAPA Bill a weapon against ideological opponents: CPM

Trinamool Congress' Sukhendu Shekhar Ray opposed the bill and said there was no need to bring this Bill and expressed apprehension that it would be used to target people who are critical of the government.

Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the government has brought this amendment bill to designate individuals engaged in terror activities as terrorists. "Those like Masood Azhar have been designated as international terrorists and the Bill would help the government to label such individuals as terrorists," he said.

Opposing the bill, MDMK chief Vaiko said he was the "standing example of misuse of MISA, POTA, TADA" and warned that the Bill has the potential to strangulate the voices of minorities and deprived classes.

He attacked both the Congress and BJP for bringing and using "draconian" laws. "I was the first victim, the only MP, to be arrested under POTA."

Referring to the ongoing case of sedition against him, he said he is out on bail now and his appeal before the High Court is coming soon. "If my punishment is enhanced, I will lose my Rajya Sabha membership. I don't care. I live by principles."

The government got support from parties like AIADMK and BJD. AIADMK's S Muthukaruppan said the bill was essential to counter terrorism inside and outside the country while BJD floor leader Prasanna Acharya, however, warned that the government should learn from history and "never try to misuse this law".

Supporting the bill, JD(U)'s said the National Investigation Agency should be made powerful as Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States.

Comments (+)