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JKNC opposes UAPA Amendment Bill 2019

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Proposed amendment in gross conflict with the fundamental right of life and personal liberty: Masoodi

New Delhi, July 24:  Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) on Wednesday opposed the Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill 2019, saying the proposed amendment is in gross conflict with the fundamental right of life and personal liberty guaranteed under the Constitution of India.

According to the JKNC spokesperson, Member of Parliament, Hasnain Masoodi, while speaking in the Parliament said, “The bill provides for investigation of offence under the Act by NIA to be conducted by an officer of the rank of Inspector. It also permits seizure/ attachment of property believed to be connected with terrorism. The Amendment gives power to the Central Government to designate a person as terrorist and include such person in Fourth Schedule of the Act. Till now only an organisation could be designated as terrorist organisation.”

Hasnain Masoodi, as per the spokesman, said that the Parliament was under a Constitutional obligation to enact a law that is in consonance with the spirit and mandate of the Constitution. “The proposed amendment was in gross conflict with the fundamental right of life and personal liberty guaranteed under the Constitution,” he said.

He insisted that the law to be in tune with the Constitutional mandate must be just, fair and reasonable and that the Amendment didn’t have any of these attributes. He maintained that power to declare a person as terrorist and bring on Fourth Schedule was open ended and amenable to misuse; that the power given was wide, unbridled, unguided and therefore with likelihood of arbitrarily used.

Maintaining that the Act didn’t displace the presumption of innocence, Masoodi said that the proposed Amendment envisaged pre trial penal consequences and therefore left room for punishment before trial.

Masoodi also took exception to entrustment of investigation to an Inspector when NIA investigated the matter as against DySP provided under the Act. “As investigation involved harsh steps like seizure and attachment of the property on the suspicion of being connected with terrorism, it was part of the constitutional obligation to have investigation conducted in an objective and dispassionate manner and to ensure fair investigation it was thought necessary to have it done by a senior officer, the requirement now done away with. The Amendment, it was argued was bound to affect the right to life and liberty as onus was put on the suspect to prove that whatever was alleged against the suspect to designate as terrorist was without substance. Though in a criminal case onus is always on the prosecution and would never shift to a suspect,” he implored.

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