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Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA)

Introduction to Unlawful Activities

In the legal sense, the term ‘Unlawful’ means prohibited or not permitted by law, either it is civil or criminal in nature, and the term ‘Activity’ includes any kind of action or movement made for any particular purpose. So, unlawful activities refer to activities that are not recognised as permissible by the rules or law of the land. These activities can also be termed as or recognised as defiance of law and there are prescribed punishments of all the various kinds of unlawful activities. Performing such activities makes an individual punishable in the eyes of law when proven guilty. 

Timeline of Security Acts enacted in India

1950- 1969 → Preventive Detention Act
1958- Now → Armed Forces Special Powers Act
1967- Now → Unlawful Activities Prevention Act
1971- 1977 → Maintenance of the Internal Security Act
1980- Now → National Security Act
1985-1995 → Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention Act)
2001- 2004 → Prevention of Terrorism Act


Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the founder of this political party is C.N. Annadurai. He also renamed Madras as Tamil Nadu and is also a former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. In the year 1962 C.N. Annadurai proposed for a separate Tamil country in his Rajya Sabha speech. But, due to the happening of the Indo-China war in the same year, he let go of his proposal.

The Central Government of India faced tremendous pressure both internally and externally as external aggression was ongoing with China and internally there was a proposal by C.N. Annadurai for a separate Tamil country. The entire country was in a panic state.
The Central Government believed that to deal with the external aggression of the Indo-China war, they have a provision of Emergency that is Article 352 of the Constitution of India, 1949. But to deal with the domestic crisis, the freedom of the citizens has to be restricted. And thus, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) was enacted and enforced before the provision of Emergency came to an end. 

The timeline is-

1962 → Indo China War
1971 → Indo Pak War
1975 → Emergency

Introduction to Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA)

The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) was passed in the year 1967 when the National Integration Council set up a committee for national integration and regionalisation. On the recommendation of the National Integration Council, the 16th Amendment Act was enacted. To control and handle the domestic crisis in the country, reasonable restrictions have to be imposed on the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country. For achieving this purpose the 16th Amendment was introduced via which reasonable restrictions were imposed on three fundamental rights of the citizens of the country. The fundamental rights on which reasonable restrictions were imposed are firstly, Freedom of Speech and Expression, secondly, the Right to Assemble peacefully, and lastly, the Right to form Association and Unions.

Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) is an anti-terror legislation and the enforcement body of this legislation is the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is India’s central counter-terrorism agency.

Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) mainly deals with unlawful activities. The unlawful activity includes any action undertaken by any individual or organisation with an intention to bring cession or separation or disrupt or question the sovereignty or territorial integrity of India.
Amendment of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA)
Amendment (2004)

In the year 2004, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) was amended. To punish terrorist activities parliament introduced dedicated chapters via amendment of 2004. This amendment was introduced in 2004 and not prior to that because the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was repealed in 2004. And after the repealing of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), there was a vacuum in the security system and thus, via amendment, these features were added in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA). This is the reason because of which the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) is also known as POTA 2.0.
Amendment (2019)

In the year 2019 when the amendment was on the verge of passing, then the opposition and the civil liberties raised a strong objection that there are high chances of misusing this Act because this Act directly authorises the government with the power to control, monitor, and curb any type of descent.

The major change made in the amendment of 2004 was-

Who can do terrorism?

It stated that any individual or any organisation can do terrorism. This change was introduced in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA), Chapter 6, Section 35, and Section 36. This Act states that after the recent amendment the Central Government has been given the power to declare any individual or organisation as terrorist if it commits or participates in the act of terrorism, prepares or promotes terrorism, or is otherwise involved in terrorism. This change was introduced because as soon as a terrorist organisation is banned, the members of those terrorist groups formulate other terrorist organisations or function individually.

Detention Provisions

If any individual is booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) then that individual can be detained for a period of 180 days (6months) without the filing of any charge sheet. This period can be extended for a greater period but at least for 180 days that individual does not have the Right to Bail.

Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Crpc), Section 167 is applicable which allows a maximum time period of 90 days (3months) for such a situation and states that after 3months Right to Bail will arise for any individual and he cannot be detained longer than that period.

But, Section 43D of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) states that if the investigation is incomplete then any individual can be detained for 180 days and longer without filing a charge sheet and the Right to Bail will not arise.

4th Schedule

Amendment of 2019 added the 4th Schedule in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA). This Act authorises the government with the power to brand or declare any individual as a terrorist and add the name of that individual in the 4th Schedule. The process of adding an individual’s name in the 4th Schedule contains no due process. Only a single remedy is available to appeal to the government within 45 days to denotify that individual’s name from the 4th Schedule for which a review committee will be set up with a retired or sitting judge as its head along with 3 other members.

Drawbacks of 2019 Amendment of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA)

The booked individual will be mandatorily detained in jail for 180 days (6months) as he has no Right to Bail. Moreover, this period of 180 days can be extended further.
If the individual appeals for the remedy within 45 days then it is mandatory for him to appeal only to that authority who has declared him as a terrorist.


Hence, In order to enable the implementation of these restrictions, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) was introduced and enacted in the year 1967. One of the key amendments in the act was made in the year 2004. In this Act, Rights are taken away for providing security, this right is largely misused by most of the government officials and thus giver the government an upper hand. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967(UAPA) is the cornerstone of India’s legislative policy against terrorism. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) was enacted with an object to control unlawful activities. It embodies the essence of the Preventive Detention Act which expired in 1969. Over the years the act has gone through several amendments to widen the ambit of its application.



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Author: Sneha Mahawar, Ramaiah Institute of Legal Studies.

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