Rajya Sabha passes UAPA Amendment Bill with 147 votes in favour, 42 against

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Friday approved the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 that empowers the central government to designate individuals as terrorists if the person commits or participates in acts of terrorism.

With the Bill being put to vote, 147 members voted for the legislation while 42 members dissented. Earlier, a motion to send the Bill to the Select Committee was negated after division of votes. The Congress and several other opposition parties opposed the provision of designating an individual as a terrorist and urged the government to refer the Bill to the Select Committee for further scrutiny.

Earlier, responding to the debate, Home Minister Amit Shah justified the amendments and rejected opposition's contentions that the Bill would be misused. "I have only brought an amendment, I did not bring the law. We can only be one step ahead of the terrorists if we keep bringing in reforms. All the previous amendments had been brought in by the Congress. The moment they went to the other side, they change their perspective. Why is that?" he asked.

Countering the arguments of the opposition about the requirement of the Bill, Shah said, "My contention is the same. If we ban one organisation, another one comes up by the same individuals. Till when will we keep banning organisations? Till we blacklist an individual as terrorist, it is impossible to rein in their work." The Bill seeks to further amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Earlier, the government was only empowered to designate organisations, and not individuals, as terrorists. The new provisions also empower the Director-General, National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the agency.

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