Recently, Supreme Court clarified that a person who “is or continues to be” even a “mere member” of a banned organisation is liable to be found criminally liable under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for acting against the sovereignty and integrity of India.
Major Highlights of judgment
- The judgment referred to Section 10(a)(i) of the UAPA which deals with membership of an unlawful association.
- The provision says that “where an association is declared unlawful by a notification issued under Section 3 which has become effective under sub-section (3) of that section,—(a) a person, who—(i) is and continues to be a member of such association shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, and shall also be liable to fine”.
- The court clarified that persons who had left the organisation and were not members at the time it was declared unlawful, cannot be held liable under Section 10(a)(i) of the UAPA.
- The court said Section 10(a)(i) was fully consonant with the objective of the UAPA to effectively prevent terrorism and unlawful activities.
- The court referred to Article 19(4), which mandated that the citizens’ right to form unions or associations was subject to the power of the state to make laws to impose “reasonable restrictions” in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality.
- It provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.
- The Act provided for declaring an association or a body of individuals “unlawful” if they indulged in any activity that included acts and words, spoken or written, or any sign or representation, that supported any claim to bring about “the cession of a part of the territory of India”, or its “secession”, or which questions or disclaims the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.