Several organizations in a joint press release have said that the Government of India and political society as such have been increasingly using military language to emphasise the urgency of the situation and trying to introduce a distinct repressive turn in the politics of criminal justice of our country, manifested in the security legislations and law enforcement measures, such as TADA, POTA, and very recently The Unlawful Activities (prevention) Amendment Bill , and The national Investigation Agency Bill,2008.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA) has structurally infringed on human rights in a number of ways. The points of concern noted in the press release are as under:
1. Vague and broad definitions of "terrorism "in these bills would inevitably lead to infringement of the freedom of expression and the freedom of association;
2. Insertion of new clauses to the section 43 of the principal Act, UAPA, ,which include power of arrest , search at any time of houses of any person on the basis of any document , any article would only result in harassment, illegal detention and other violations of human rights;
3. Permitting longer detention of "terror suspects" upto 180 days which would allow the investigating agencies to detain people without charge and trial and would get ample scope for using false evidence ,and additional blank check permission of taking a detained person from judicial custody to police custody at any point of time would further aggravate /facilitate torture;
4. Permitting harsh and tough procedures for the detained person to obtain bail which curtails the rights of the accused;
5. Permitting absolute denial of bail to foreign nationals , which destroys the
principle of non-discrimination on grounds of nationality and the principle of
5. Permitting reversal of age-old pillar of natural justice regarding the presumption of innocence would show disrespect to the most basic principles of fair trial ;
6. Permitting more tough and difficult procedures pertaining to sanction for prosecution against erring and delinquent investigating officers , which would only enhance the culture of impunity;
7. Permitting curtailment of appeal period by the accused, which seriously jeopardizes the rights of the accused in getting fairness
in the process of the administration of justice ;
8. Permitting anonymous witnesses, which would limit and suspend the rights of the accused to examine the witnesses on same terms as the prosecution.
The press release emphasizes that these bills restrict human rights in such a way that calls into question the basic principles of rule of law , India's commitment to international laws and standards relating to promotion and upholding of human rights . These bills have condensed all the power in the hands of a single branch of the government, thereby have undermined the ideologies of importance of individual rights, the separation of powers, process of judicial review of such security legislations, . Our experiences have shown that these security measures only help strengthen tyranny.
The signatories to the statement are:
APDR, TASAM, NAGARIK MANCHA, GANA PRATIRODH MANCHA,USDF, SANHATI, BMC, SEZ BIRODHI MANCHA, IC,PRESDENCY COLLEGE, CCSM, AKINCHAN PATRIKA, FORUM FOR INTELLECTUALS, MASUM, FAMA