Parliament of India (File Photo)
Parliament of India (File Photo)

Rajya Sabha takes up UAPA Bill, Congress questions provisions

ANI | Updated: Aug 01, 2019 23:34 IST

New Delhi (India), August 1 (ANI): Rajya Sabha on Thursday took up the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, after rejecting Opposition's demand not to extend the sitting of the Upper House beyond the scheduled time for the passage of the contentious Bill that designates an individual as a terrorist.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad termed the government's insistence of taking up the Bill as "unfair" and accused the government of getting the Bills passed without proper scrutiny.
"This is unjust and unfair on the part of the government. You are getting the Bills passed without scrutiny and that too in the extended session of the Parliament. We wanted the Bill to be sent to Select Committee but you did not agree," Azad said.
The senior Congress leader urged the government to take up the Bill on Friday and get it passed after detailed discussion.
"We do not have any objections in sitting late till night. We have done so in the past too," he said.
Responding to Azad, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said that so many Bills were lapsed after getting passed by the Lok Sabha. He urged the Chair to take up the Bill for discussion and passage.
He said the only four working days are left in the current session of Parliament and the government has lots of business.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar hailed the opposition for their cooperation in the passage of the Bills.
He said the Bills were in backlog since last some years and the House should pass it.
Minister of State G Kishan Reddy moved the Bill rejecting the opposition's demand.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 has already been cleared by the Lok Sabha on July 24.
Participating in the debate, Congress' Kapil Sibal requested Home Minister Amit Shah to agree with the proposal of referring the Bill to the Select Committee.
"But if you don't agree, I will oppose the Bill," he said.
He said there have been a lot of provisions in the existing laws that are proposed in the amendment bill but the percentage of acquittals is huge and convictions are so low.
He said the existing provisions under the law have ample space to prosecute anyone who supports terror.
"The House should think as to how long innocent people should remain in jail as under trials. While fighting terror, we should also know what is happening in the ground," he said.
The former union minister said the Bill will be passed with a "manufactured majority" in the Rajya Sabha but to no avail because several provisions will not stand the scrutiny of law.
"Why do you need a separate provision to declare a person as a terrorist? Will a person be declared a terrorist before an FIR is registered or after the chargesheet is filed? How is this consistent with the principle of innocent till proven guilty?" he asked.
"Hafiz Saeed is a terrorist. Nathuram Godse is a terrorist. But you are not brave enough to call Godse a terrorist," Sibal said.
BJP's Prabhat Jha, Trinamool Congress' Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav, MDMK's Vaiko and AIADMK's S Muthukaruppan spoke at length on the Bill.
The discussion will continue on Friday.
The Bill seeks to further amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, empowering the central government to designate individuals as terrorists if the person commits or participates, promotes or involved in acts of terrorism.
Under the existing laws, the government could only designate organizations, and not individuals, as terrorists.
The Bill also empowers the Director-General of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the agency. (ANI)