Ruling National Conference created a record of sorts on the amendment in the Unlawful Activities Act by supporting it in the Lok Sabha and later abstaining in the Rajya Sabha. It led to the conclusion that the party is not in a position to understand the proposed laws in anticipation.
Early this week when the Home Ministry came with the amendments in the Unlawful Activities Act, NC’s members did what the UPA-II wanted. All its three members – Dr Farooq Abdullah, Shareef ud Din Shariq and Dr Mehboob Beig, supported the bill that made the law more stringent. On Thursday when the same law went for the routine passage in the Rajya Sabha, the NC members – Ghulam Nabi Ratanpuri and Mohammad Shafi Uri, were part of the flock that abstained.
Sources said the NC members met the government officials asking them that they will not be going with the UPA on this issue. They were told that since the government is supported by the BJP and many other parties, their opposition would not matter. Finally, Ratanpuri made a speech against the amendments and explained the situation using his personal encounters with the police back home and moved out. He talked in detail about the misuse of authority by the police which the new law, he said, will add to the powers. The party abstained along with the Trinamool Congress Party. Parties which opposed the law and voted against it included JD (U), Lok Jana Shakti and some Muslim members from various parties.
“We take time to understand,” one member told KL and laughed the issue away. “When we understand (the issue), we act.” The law, however, is passed.
The changed law takes care of the offences that threaten country’s economic security including circulation of counterfeit currency. People involved in counterfeit will now be considered terrorists.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, however, said an individual, group of individuals and an association who are involved in counterfeit currency circulation will be covered under the law and will not be used against innocent people.
The other salient features of the bill include expansion of the definition of terrorist act to include acts that involve detention, abduction, threats to kill or injure, or other actions so as to compel an international or inter-governmental organisation to comply with some demand. The law will take care of those involved in procurement of weapons, raising funds for terrorist activities and counterfeiting Indian currency. It would also cover offences by companies, societies or trusts.
The amended law gives additional powers to courts to provide for attachment or forfeiture of property equivalent to the counterfeit currency involved in the offence or to the value of proceeds of terrorism involved in the offence.
India junior Home Minister P N Singh said the amended law is against terrorism and terrorists and will not be misused. “I assure that the bill is religion neutral,” Singh said, “Terrorism is not just about guns, it is also about attack on a country’s economy.”