Finally, the Amendment granted officers the prerogative to perform searches or make arrests without a warrant based solely on the personal knowledge they had or the information sourced from a document, article or any other thing. It becomes clear from the above points that the semantic formulation of these amendments renders the criminalisation of practically any act possible if packaged correctly.
Nonetheless, the Amendment was not applied retroactively to those individuals whose acts prompted the Amendment and in fact, led to democratic practices being arbitrarily labelled as unlawful and to the targeting of journalists and activists by virtue of their affiliation to any type of organisation opposing the government’s practices.
Though acquittals were granted to a majority of those accused under the 2008 Amendment, the 2012 Amendment enabled UAPA charges to be more rigorously enforced with very little possibility of acquittal. The UAPA once again expanded its reach by adding companies, NGOs and intergovernmental organisations to its list of bodies that could be banned. It could also be taken to mean that it meant all persons associated with those groups that had committed a crime. Again, the distribution of these bans is characterised by a striking disproportionality that overwhelmingly targets minority groups. It further absolves the government of its responsibility to provide a rationale for any of the aforementioned bans, while at the same time removing the legal tools available to the groups designated as “terrorist organisations” from their reach.
Moreover, the accused are immediately subject to the terms of their charges and may be arrested and prosecuted even before the government’s evidence in favour of a ban has been deemed adequate.
Organisations may be banned based on their status as “unlawful associations” or “terrorist organisations” (with the possibility of being banned on both grounds), and despite the “terrorist” tag being retractable, they may continue to be banned on the basis of their status as an “unlawful” organisation. Though these designations exist, not a single Hindutva (Hindu fundamentalist) group is listed, despite such organisations having perpetrated acts that are undoubtedly terrorist. It can be said, therefore, that the 2012 UAPA Amendment has made little progress in actually countering terrorism and has instead served as a legal and widespread method to suppress democratic dissent.
Further changes were brought to the UAPA in August 2019. One such change includes the ability of the central government to nominate not only organisations but individuals as terrorists. However, the accused have little legal recourse as a central official holds enough authority to declare an individual as a terrorist, and the accused cannot expunge his record of such a label.
The challenges presented by the UAPA can also be condensed into two distinct categories: substantive issues, relating to the vague and all-encompassing definitions that challenge democratic participation, and procedural issues including a reversed burden of proof and the functioning of tribunals.
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