97.2 percent of persons arrested get acquitted at the end of trials in UAPA courts but after spending many years in jail without bail. The People’s Union for Civil Liberties demands the repeal of the UAPA to end flagrant state abuse
Waquar Hasan | Clarion India
NEW DELHI – A study about the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) cases being investigated by the National Investigation (NIA) revealed that 80 percent of the 357 cases filed in the last 12 years were registered under the Narendra Modi government while the remaining 20 percent cases were registered during the Manmohan Singh government.
The report titled “UAPA: Criminalising Dissent and State Terror” released by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) on Saturday is based on the study of the cases registered between August 2022 and 2009 when the NIA came into existence.
According to the report, the data of the cases provided by the NIA on its website shows that 12 percent cases were registered by the NIA suo motu while 88 percent cases were transferred to NIA from the state police.
“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,” noted the report.
The report cited the example of Bhima Koregaon case which was transferred to the NIA because the BJP-led government fell in 2020 early and Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress led by Uddhave Thackeray formed the government in Maharashtra.
The report cited another example in a case from Madurai involving a Facebook post on 15.08.2019 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 the NIA in 2021.
“The arbitrary use of unbridled suo motu powers of the Central government to transfer to itself through the NIA, cases from the state police is a serious threat to federal principles,” said Dr. V Suresh, general secretary of the PUCL.
The report came up with another issue that of the abuse of UAPA after the analysis of use of Section 18 of UAPA which is titled `Punishment for Conspiracy’.
Out of a total of 357, section 18 was invoked in 238 cases that come to 86 percent. In the 238 cases in where section 18 was invoked, 64 percent are the cases in which no specific incident involving weapons or causing physical injury was reported.
In 64 percent of the cases involving Section 18 of the UAPA charges are levelled on mere allegations 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, said the report.
Citing the NCRB (National Crime Record Bureau) data of 2015 to 2020, the report noted that there were 5,924 UAPA cases registered throughout India in which 8,371 persons were arrested.
About the conviction rate, the report found that out of 8,371 persons arrested during 2015-2020 under the UAPA, close to 8,136 persons constituting 97.2 percent of persons arrested, get 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,” noted the report.
Demanding the repeal of the UAPA, Suresh said, “We ask the civil society to be more vigilant, to come together and raise their voices against the flagrant state abuse. We urge the political parties and leaders of the entire political spectrum to aid in strengthening the demand to repeal the draconian UAPA and other such laws which should not have a place in a constitutional democracy where rule of law is upheld. We seek the support of the media to educate people about the dangers of such laws”.