Skip to main content

'Misusing' NIA for anti-terror law, Modi govt undermines federal structure: PUCL report

By Rajiv Shah* 

A new report, seeking to study how the Indian state has allegedly weaponised the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) "against anyone who dares to challenge the Indian state and assert their fundamental rights to information, association, dissent and democracy", has said that the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is indiscriminately using the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as the "lead player in the abuse of UAPA."
Published by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and authored by V Suresh, Madhura SB and Lekshmi Sujatha, the report, titled "UAPA: Criminalising Dissent and State Terror: Study of UAPA Abuse in India, 2009 - 2022", released as part of its #RepealUAPA Campaign says that out of a total of 357 UAPA cases handled by NIA between the period 2009-August 2022, about 20% were registered and investigated during the Manmohan Singh led regime, while 80% were registered and investigated during the Modi government.
The report says, a study of the NIA website data shows that of the 357 UAPA cases investigated by the NIA, 41 or 12% were registered suo motu, while a whopping 316 or 88% were transferred to NIA from state police.
Noting that NIA having suo motu powers to transfer investigations from state police is a "threat to federalism", the report says, the most contentious use of such wide powers was in the manner the Ministry of Home Affairs overnight decided to transfer the Bhima Koregaon case in early 2020 from the Maharashtra state police to NIA only because the Fadnavis-led BJP government fell and a new MVA government led by Uddhav Thackeray took charge.
According to the report, the validity of these transfers from the state police to the NIA is also suspect since a high number of these transferred cases were not even remotely connected to national security or threat to sovereignty or involved any violence.
It adds, an example is a case from Madurai involving a Facebook post on August 15, 2019 in which the accused person remarked as to whether India was truly independent. The case was abruptly transferred from the Tamil Nadu state police to NIA in 2021.
Referring to what it calls "abuse of the conspiracy provision", the report says, an analysis of use of Section 18 of UAPA titled Punishment for Conspiracy suggests, an alleged agreement to commit a terrorist crime is enough to prosecute; the “object” of the agreement need not have occurred. "The definition of conspiracy is so wide and elastic, that anyone can be roped in", it stresses.
An examination of the number of cases under Section 18 UAPA offences reveals that out of total UAPA cases investigated by NIA (357), the cases involving Section 18 charges were 238. Of these 238 cases, the cases where some incident of terrorism occurred were 86 cases (36%), while cases where no specific incident involving weapons or causing physical injury were 152 cases (64%).
In other words, the report says, in 64% of cases involving the Section 18 UAPA charge, the mere allegation of the police that a person is a member of a proscribed terrorist organisation or some recoveries were made from him of an alleged weapon or explosives or drugs or money is sufficient to arrest the person and be imprisoned for many years.
The report, which is based on an analysis of the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics -- calling it the only data source, albeit sketchy and available for the period 2015 till 2020 -- shedding light poor conviction rate vis-à-vis the impossibility of bail in UAPA cases, says, there were 5,924 UAPA cases registered throughout India in which 8,371 persons were arrested during 2015-2020.
Thus, according to the report, in the years 2018 and 2020, the percentage of people on bail was as low as 16.32% and 16.88%, and the figure for 2019 reflected a higher proportion of 32.08%. However, it underlines, a closer study reveals that in Tamil Nadu in 2019, all 308 persons shown as arrested under UAPA were released on bail, which is highly unusual for UAPA cases. If these cases are kept aside, the bail percentage is seen to be 16.27%.
As for the conviction rates, if based on the number of cases, they are 27.57%, but the conviction rates based on number of persons arrested is a mere 2.80%, the report says. It comments, the poor conviction rate of 2.8% based on number of persons arrested in UAPA cases is in line with the conviction rates when the previous anti-terror legislations TADA (P) Act and POTA were in vogue.
The report continues, if looked at in another way, out of 8,371 persons arrested during 2015-2020 under UAPA, close to 8,136 persons constituting 97.2% of persons arrested, got acquitted at the end of trials in UAPA courts but after spending many years in jail without bail. Such high acquittal rates, only highlights the fact that most of the prosecutions are devoid of merit and did not warrant initiation of prosecution in the first place, much less, under UAPA.
The report, seeking wider media to educate people about the dangers of such laws, demands repeal of UAPA and repeal of all other anti-people laws; repeal of the NIA Act and disbanding of NIA; immediate release of all political prisoners, on bail; action against all police officials who have wilfully launched false and fabricated cases against marginalised communities, journalists, academicians, students and others; and reparations for those wrongfully accused and released by courts.
---
*Editor, Counterview. Click here to access the report

Comments

TRENDING

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Indians witnessing 'regression to Hindutva politics' under Modi ahead of elections

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The forthcoming general election in India, scheduled from April 19, 2024, to June 1, 2024, to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha and the new Government of India, carries immense significance for the preservation of India's identity as a liberal, secular, and constitutional democracy.