The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was passed by the Parliament of India on December 30, 1967. It provides for the ‘effective prevention’ of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations in the country. A 2004 amendment also covers terrorist activities.
‘Unlawful activity’ is defined as any action taken by an individual or association – through an act, words, spoken or written, or by signs or visible representation – which is intended to, or supports a claim to, bring about the cession of a part of the territory of India, or the secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union, or which incites any individual or group of individuals to bring about such cession or secession. It covers activities which disclaim, question, disrupt or are intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, and which cause or intend to cause disaffection against India.
The Act extends to the whole of India. It also applies
to citizens of India who are abroad, persons in service of the Indian
government, and persons on ships and aircrafts registered in India.
How is an association declared as unlawful under the Act?
If the central government is of the opinion that an association is, or has become, an unlawful association, it may declare it to be so by a notification in the Gazette of India. Every such notification shall specify the grounds on which it is issued and other particulars that the central government may consider necessary.
What are the penalties for being member of an unlawful association?
A person who is, and continues to be, a member of an unlawful association, takes part in meetings of such association, contributes to, receives or solicits any contribution for the purpose of such association, or assists the operations of such association in any way, shall be punishable with imprisonment up to two years, and a fine.
A person who is a member of an unlawful association – or voluntarily aids the objects of such association – who possesses unlicensed firearms, ammunition, explosives or other instruments capable of causing mass destruction and commits an act resulting in loss of life, grievous injury to anyone, or damage to property, shall be punishable with imprisonment for at least five years, extendable to life, and a fine. If such an act results in death, it shall be punishable with death or imprisonment for life, and a fine.
Whoever takes part in, commits, advocates, abets, advises or incites the commission of an unlawful activity, shall be punishable with imprisonment of up to seven years, and a fine. Whoever, in any way, assists in an unlawful activity shall be punishable with imprisonment of up to five years, or with a fine, or both.
What does the Act consider as a terrorist act?
An act with intent to threaten the unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty of India, or with intent to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India, or in a foreign country, can be considered a terrorist act. It can be considered such an act if there is use of bombs, dynamites, other explosive or inflammable substances, firearms, poisonous gases or by any other substances of a hazardous nature likely to cause death of, or injuries to, any person; loss of, or damage to, or destruction of, property; or disruption of any supplies or services essential to the life of the community in India or in any foreign country; or damage to the monetary stability of India by way of production or smuggling or circulation of counterfeit Indian currency; or damage or destruction of property in India or in a foreign country used or intended to be used for the defence of India, or in connection with any other purposes of the central or state governments, or any of their agencies.
Terrorist acts also include the use of criminal force, causing or attempting to cause the death of any public functionary; detaining, kidnaping or abducting any person and threatening to kill or injure the person in order to compel the central or state government of India, or the government of a foreign country or an international organisation or any other person to do or abstain from doing any act.
What is the purview of officers empowered by the central or state governments to carry out the provisions of this Act?
Any officer designated as an authority to implement the provisions of this Act, who knows of a design to commit any offence under this Act, or has reason to believe from personal knowledge or information given by any person and taken in writing that any person has committed an offence punishable under this Act, or from any document, article or any other source which may furnish evidence of the commission of such offence, may authorise any officer subordinate to them to arrest such a person or search such building, conveyance or place whether by day or by night or themselves undertake the arrest or search.
Focus and Factoids by Vaishali Ellora.
Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India
Government of India, New Delhi
30 Dec, 1967