Published on: September 26, 2022 at 19:31 IST
A Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice of India U. U Lalit, Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice J. B Pardiwala, enlisted a writ petition to be heard on 18th October, challenging the constitutionality of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Appearing for the petitioners, Foundation of Media Professionals, Senior Advocate Arvind Datar was asked to address the matter on 18th October by CJI Lalit.
The petition submits the Act being a political tool misused by the governments to target any forms and all forms of dissent, disguising the law as an anti-terror law.
It states that, “The scheme of the Act, is a gross assault on the freedoms protected under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution, insofar as it grants excessive and overwhelming powers to the State to act against associations and individuals who express criticism against the ruling party or the majoritarian sentiments.”
As stated in the plea, the provisions of the Act are designed to uproot any and all forms of differences in opinions with the governing party, licensing to assault the freedom of speech and expression.
It also apprises that the definition of “unlawful activity” and “terrorist act” do not hold mens rea as an important ingredient, thus having an umbrella of acts under it, whether intended to exploit harmony or giving a mere expression regarding governance.
As per petition, “The definition of ‘unlawful activity’ includes “disaffection against India” which does not have a defined meaning under the Act and can be used to target anyone against whom the government harbours a grudge to someone who may have a contrary point of view.”
“It is submitted that ‘unlawful activity’ as a category exists only for the State to quell opposition, and in that sense is arbitrary and undemocratic.”
Accordingly, the petition prays for the declaration of the Act being unconstitutional, holding it arbitrary and violative of fundamental rights of the citizens and the spirit of democracy.