Low conviction rate proves UAPA being used to deprive civil rights under the guise of fighting terror: Popular Front

In a statement issued today, Popular Front of India Chairman O M A Salam has said that the low conviction rate in UAPA cases filed across the country proves that the law is being used to deprive citizens of their fundamental rights under the guise of fighting terror.

According to the data presented in the Rajya Sabha by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), only 2.2% of the cases filed under UAPA ended in conviction. This is shocking and shows that UAPA is as harmful to civil rights or worse than the erstwhile terror laws like TADA and POTA, which were repealed after popular outrage. It was the then UPA Government which, using the peculiar circumstance of the 2008 Mumbai attack, amended already stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and made it more draconian. It did so by adding all the controversial provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Thus, the law empowered investigative agencies to arrest anyone and detain for prolonged periods without chargesheet, bail, or trial. In 2019, the law was further amended by BJP goverment, and a dreadful clause was added, as per which now even individuals can be designated as terrorist by the government.

As pointed out by Human Rights organizations at the very beginning, the law is now being widely misused against political opponents and voices of dissent. It is also being disproportionately used against Muslims and Dalits. Now, even protesting farmers and their supporters are being implicated under UAPA.

Those who are booked under UAPA are treated as terrorists and they are proved innocent after languishing many years in jail. The courts hesitate to grant bail even to the accused who are falsely implicated, because of the stringent bail provisions in UAPA. The fact revealed by govt is that nearly 98% detainees are denied natural justice as their trial is indefinitely delayed or they are finally acquitted. Now that the repressive role of UAPA is proved beyond doubt, O M A Salam has asked parliamentarians belonging to all parties to act jointly for removing all draconian amendments including restrictions on granting bail.