CCG OPEN LETTER TO CITIZENS OF INDIA GOVERNMENT OF INDIA MUST REPLACE THE UAPA WITH LEGISLATION THAT FIGHTS TERRORISM WHILE SAFEGUARDING PERSONAL LIBERTIES

16 August 2021

Dear Citizens of India,

We are a group of retired officers of the All India and Central Services who have worked with the Central and State Governments in the course of our careers. As members of the Constitutional Conduct Group, we believe in impartiality, neutrality and commitment to the Indian Constitution and in safeguarding its values.

We are writing this in the matter of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) that violates the Constitutional guarantees of citizens’ fundamental rights. Though this law has been in existence in India’s statute books for over five decades, the harsh amendments it has gone through in  recent years has made it draconian, repressive, and amenable to gross misuse at the hands of ruling politicians and the police. Typical of such misuse are the cases of the three anti-CAA student protestors – Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha – who were arrested under UAPA without any valid grounds but were recently granted bail by the Delhi High Court in a detailed and unprecedented order.

On 9 March 2021, the Union Minister of State for Home, Shri G. Kishan Reddy, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha, admitted to the uncommon overuse of the UAPA. He confirmed that 1948 persons were arrested under the UAPA in 1226 cases across the country in 2019, which showed a 72% increase as compared to 2015.  The following figures will show the increase in cases and arrests between 2015 and 2019:

2015: 897 cases with 1128 arrests

2016: 922 cases with 999 arrests

2017: 901 cases with 1554 arrests

2018: 1182 cases with 1421 arrests

2019: 1226 cases with 1948 arrests

2019 saw the highest number of arrests in the country, particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh (498) Manipur (386), Tamil Nadu (308), Jammu & Kashmir (227) and Jharkhand (202).

Despite the large number of arrests under the UAPA, the number of prosecutions and convictions shows a steep decline. The Government of India has admitted that a mere 2.2% of the cases registered between 2016 and 2019 resulted in conviction. We may conclude that the vast majority of the arrests under UAPA were made on specious grounds just to spread fear and muzzle dissent.

The UAPA has a chequered history. This legislation, first passed in 1967 on the recommendations of the National Integration Council to combat communalism, casteism, regionalism and linguistic chauvinism and to deal with associations engaged in secessionist activities, has changed colour over time and has now become a statute that has created new categories of offences and punishments.

The UAPA was not used extensively prior to the last decade as the Government of India had, meanwhile, enacted preventive detention laws such as the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA-1971), the National Security Act (NSA-1980), the Terrorist And Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA-1987)   and The Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA-2002). But after the 9/11 terror attack on the USA, the UN Security Council passed a resolution asking national governments to enact countrywide anti-terror laws. The Government of India complied by passing the UAPA Amendment Act, 2004, carrying stringent provisions to suppress terrorism.

However, the Government of India seriously departed from the principles of criminal jurisprudence and from the provisions of the Constitution when the UAPA (Amendment) Act, 2008 was codified after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. This was done during the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Successive UPA and NDA Union governments which have been or are in power are responsible for the extreme stringency of the UAPA. In 2008, the UPA government made bail provisions much more stringent, increased the pre-charge detention period from 90 days to 180 days and, most damagingly, placed the burden of proof on the accused. In 2019, the NDA government further amended the UAPA to allow individuals, not merely organisations, to be designated terrorist. This amendment also gave unfettered and autocratic powers to the executive, in particular the National Investigation Agency (NIA), to enter any State and arrest any person. Though some voices of protest were raised when these amendments were made, most political parties supported the move. For the UPA members or any other party to act outraged now is, therefore, disingenuous.

The most shocking of the arrests under the UAPA have been of persons accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case. Several well regarded activists who have fought throughout their lives for the rights of tribal people and other oppressed groups have been arrested as terrorists and, even today, languish in jail. . The names of those arrested are well known – Sudha Bhardwaj, Rona Wilson, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Arun Ferreira and Varavara Rao, to name a few.  And, of course, Father Stan Swamy – an 84 year old Jesuit priest – suffering from Parkinson’s and other ailments, who was not granted bail despite repeated requests and eventually died while in custody.

Former judge of the Patna High Court, Justice Anjana Prakash, is on record stating that 66% of the total number of persons booked under the UAPA were for conspiracy without any allegations of accompanying acts of violence. She also revealed that out of the total number of 386 cases being investigated by the NIA, 74 cases were for non-UAPA offences while 312 pertained to UAPA offences. She added that NIA has not been able to submit charge-sheets in 56% of these cases, meaning that the accused in these cases still remain in custody. These figures definitely point to an unhealthy practice of “governance by fear” which has no legitimate place in a democracy.

The law, as it stands today, has many flaws and loopholes making it amenable to large scale abuse and misuse by some politicians and overzealous policemen. Things have come to such a pass that at a recent webinar on “Democracy, Dissent and Draconian Laws”, organised by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms, four former Supreme Court judges – Justices Aftab Alam, Madan B Lokur, Gopala Gowda and Deepak Gupta – came down heavily on UAPA and sedition laws and the way they are being misused to suppress democratic dissent and curb fundamental rights. Justices Gopala Gowda and Deepak Gupta were of the view that since Section 43D(5) of the UAPA takes away the power of courts to grant bail and order a judicial review, the law is unconstitutional.   All the former Supreme Court judges agreed that the UAPA should not remain in the statute book in its present form. We believe, like them, that such a draconian law has no place in a civilised society, particularly in a country claiming to be the world’s largest democracy.

Participating in a session at the G-7 Summit in Cornwall, United Kingdom, held between 11 and 13 June 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of democracy and freedom being part of the Indian ethos. If the Prime Minister is true to his word, his government should heed the call of legal luminaries and the ordinary public, appreciate that the UAPA in its present form poses a serious threat to the freedom of our citizens and to democracy and, after consulting legal experts and taking into account the views of Parliament, enact fresh legislation to replace the UAPA which, while addressing concerns regarding terrorism, safeguards the right to liberty of those exercising their fundamental right of free expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution of India.

 

SATYAMEVA JAYATE

(108 signatories, as below)

1. Anita Agnihotri IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Social Justice Empowerment, GoI
2. Salahuddin Ahmad IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
3. S.P. Ambrose IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI
4. Anand Arni RAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
5. G. Balachandhran IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
6. Vappala Balachandran IPS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
7. Gopalan Balagopal IAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
8. Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Coal, GoI
9. Rana Banerji RAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
10. T.K. Banerji IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Union Public Service Commission
11. Sharad Behar IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
12. Aurobindo Behera IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Odisha
13. K.V. Bhagirath IFS (Retd.) Former Secretary General, Indian Ocean Rim Association, Mauritius
14. Ravi Budhiraja IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, GoI
15. Sundar Burra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
16. R. Chandramohan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Secretary, Transport and Urban Development, Govt. of NCT of Delhi
17. Rachel Chatterjee IAS (Retd.) Former Special Chief Secretary, Agriculture, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh
18. Kalyani Chaudhuri IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
19. Gurjit Singh Cheema IAS (Retd.) Former Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Govt. of Punjab
20. F.T.R. Colaso IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police, Govt. of  Karnataka & former Director General of Police, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir
21. Anna Dani IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
22. Vibha Puri Das IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI
23. P.R. Dasgupta IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI
24. Pradeep K. Deb IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Deptt. Of Sports, GoI
25. Nitin Desai   Former Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, GoI
26. Keshav Desiraju IAS (Retd.) Former Health Secretary, GoI
27. M.G. Devasahayam IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana
28. Sushil Dubey IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Sweden
29. A.S. Dulat IPS (Retd.) Former OSD on Kashmir, Prime Minister’s Office, GoI
30. K.P. Fabian IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Italy
31. Prabhu Ghate IAS (Retd.) Former Addl. Director General, Department of Tourism, GoI
32. Arif Ghauri IRS (Retd.) Former Governance Adviser, DFID, Govt. of the United Kingdom (on deputation)
33. Gourisankar Ghosh IAS (Retd.) Former Mission Director, National Drinking Water Mission, GoI
34. Suresh K. Goel IFS (Retd.) Former Director General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations, GoI
35. S.K. Guha IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development, GoI
36. H.S. Gujral IFoS (Retd.) Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Govt. of Punjab
37. Meena Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI
38. Deepa Hari IRS (Resigned)  
39. Siraj Hussain IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Agriculture, GoI
40. Kamal Jaswal IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
41. Najeeb Jung IAS (Retd.) Former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi
42. Arun Kumar IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, GoI
43. Brijesh Kumar IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
44. Ish Kumar IPS (Retd.) Former DGP (Vigilance & Enforcement), Govt. of Telangana and former Special Rapporteur, National Human Rights Commission
45. Sudhir Kumar IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Central Administrative Tribunal
46. Subodh Lal IPoS (Resigned) Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI
47. B.B. Mahajan IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Deptt. of Food, GoI
48. Harsh Mander IAS (Retd.) Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
49. Amitabh Mathur IPS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
50. Aditi Mehta IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
51. Shivshankar Menon IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary and Former National Security Adviser
52. Malay Mishra IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Hungary
53. Sunil Mitra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
54. Noor Mohammad IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, Govt. of India
55. Avinash Mohananey IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Sikkim
56. Satya Narayan Mohanty IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
57. Jugal Mohapatra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Rural Development, GoI
58. Deb Mukharji IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal
59. Shiv Shankar Mukherjee IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
60. Gautam Mukhopadhaya IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Myanmar
61. Pranab S. Mukhopadhyay IAS (Retd.) Former Director, Institute of Port Management, GoI
62. Nagalsamy IA&AS (Retd.) Former Principal Accountant General, Tamil Nadu & Kerala
63. T.K.A. Nair IAS (Retd.) Former Adviser to Prime Minister of India
64. P.A. Nazareth IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Egypt and Mexico
65. P. Joy Oommen IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Chhattisgarh
66. Amitabha Pande IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
67. Niranjan Pant IA&AS (Retd.) Former Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General, GoI
68. Maxwell Pereira IPS (Retd.) Former Joint Commissioner of Police, Delhi
69. Alok Perti IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Coal, GoI
70. R. Poornalingam IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, GoI
71. Rajesh Prasad IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to the Netherlands
72. Sharda Prasad IAS (Retd.) Former Director General (Employment and Training), Ministry of Labour and Employment, GoI
73. Rajdeep Puri IRS (Resigned) Former Joint Commissioner of Income Tax, GoI
74. T.R. Raghunandan IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI
75. N.K. Raghupathy IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI
76. V.P. Raja IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission
77. C. Babu Rajeev IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, GoI
78. K. Sujatha Rao IAS (Retd.) Former Health Secretary, GoI
79. M.Y. Rao IAS (Retd.)  
80. Vijaya Latha Reddy IFS (Retd.) Former Deputy National Security Adviser, GoI
81. Julio Ribeiro IPS (Retd.) Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & former Ambassador to Romania
82. Aruna Roy IAS (Resigned)  
83. A.K. Samanta IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police (Intelligence), Govt. of West Bengal
84. Deepak Sanan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
85. G. Sankaran IC&CES (Retd.) Former President, Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal
86. Shyam Saran IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary and Former Chairman, National Security Advisory Board
87. N.C. Saxena IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI
88. A. Selvaraj IRS (Retd.) Former Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Chennai, GoI
89. Aftab Seth IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Japan
90. Ashok Kumar Sharma IFoS (Retd.) Former MD, State Forest Development Corporation, Govt. of Gujarat
91. Ashok Kumar Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia
92. Navrekha Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Indonesia
93. Raju Sharma IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
94. K.S. Sidhu IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
95. Ajai Vikram Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Defence Secretary, GoI
96. Ramesh Inder Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Punjab and former Chief Information Commissioner, Punjab
97. Satyavir Singh IRS (Retd.) Former Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, GoI
98. Sujatha Singh IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary, GoI
99. Tara Ajai Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Karnataka
100. Tirlochan Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, National Commission for Minorities, GoI
101. Narendra Sisodia IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
102. Anup Thakur IAS (Retd.) Former Member, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
103. Thanksy Thekkekera IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Minorities Development, Govt. of Maharashtra
104. P.S.S. Thomas IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
105. Hindal Tyabji IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir
106. Ashok Vajpeyi IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi
107. Ramani Venkatesan IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra
108. Rudi Warjri IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica

 

 

6 thoughts on “CCG OPEN LETTER TO CITIZENS OF INDIA GOVERNMENT OF INDIA MUST REPLACE THE UAPA WITH LEGISLATION THAT FIGHTS TERRORISM WHILE SAFEGUARDING PERSONAL LIBERTIES

  1. Please publish the letter in all national daily’s newspaper’s for wider coverage to the people. The efforts of the group should bring more awareness among the masses. I fully appreciate the moves by the Constitutional Conduct group .Thanks and regards to all of you .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Enact fresh legislation to replace ‘draconian’ UAPA, former bureaucrats tell government - Azad Kashmir

  3. surenabreu

    This letter is long awaited. The severe abuse of the UAPA by successive governments is threatening the democratic principles of free speech and constructive dissent. The very purpose of the law gets defeated when it is used to suppress voices of justice or critics of the government. I am waiting for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the side of justice and declare that the amendments are unconstitutional and bad in law.

    Like

  4. Pingback: Enact fresh legislation to replace ‘draconian’ UAPA, former bureaucrats tell government | hi INDiA

  5. Pingback: GoI must replace the UAPA with legislation that fights terrorism while safeguarding personal liberties. – free them all

  6. Pingback: Enact fresh legislation to replace ‘draconian’ UAPA, former bureaucrats tell government – F10 News

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