President gives assent to amendments to UAPA; individuals can now be declared as terrorists

President Ram Nath Kovind has given assent to a legislation under which individuals can be declared as terrorists and their properties seized, officials said on Friday. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 also provides for putting travel ban on such individuals once they are declared as terrorists. The President gave his assent to the legislation late on Thursday night, a home ministry official said. The Lok Sabha had passed the amendment Bill on July 24 and the Rajya Sabha on August 2. Indias most wanted, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, are likely to be the first two individuals to be designated as terrorists under the legislation, the officials said. Also read| Earlier, the law required that the NIA take prior permission from the respective state police chief to attach the proceeds of terrorism. This delays the process as often such properties are in different states, another official said. Earlier, officers in the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above were empowered to investigate cases under the UAPA as per Section 43. Now, officers in the rank of Inspector are empowered to do so. The inspector-rank officers have over time acquired sufficient proficiency to investigate UAPA-related cases and this move would quicken the delivery of justice in such cases, which are reviewed by senior officers at various levels. Home Minister Amit Shah had said the law, that would be used only to tackle terror, would help agencies remain four steps ahead of terrorists. Shah said terrorist acts are committed not by organisations but by individuals. Declaring an organisation as a terrorist organisation will not stop the individuals behind it. Not designating individuals as terrorists would give them an opportunity to circumvent the law and they would simply gather under a different name and keep up their terror activities, he said.