The Act came into being to prevent terrorist acts or detain people who are suspected of planning terrorist activity. Through this act, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) can detain anyone from all over India without the consent of state authorities. The suspected can be detained for 60-90 days. The police is required to file a chargesheet, failing which the individual can be granted bail.
But again, there can be extension of up to 180 days on certain grounds. But this act has snatched our right to protest; we saw how people protesting against the CAA-NRC Act were put behind bars and released only recently by the Court on June 15, 2021. The Delhi HC also gave the judgement that there should be drawn a difference between the right to protest and terrorist activities.
Also, the arrest of Akhil Gogoi for protesting against CAA-NRC should be brought to light.
Another case where terrorism charges were put on a citizen is that of a journalist who was covering the issue of the Hathras police brutality in October 2020. However, he was jailed on the grounds of allegedly being a member of the Popular Front of India. He was only released by the Court on June 16, 2021.
Similarly, Umar Khalid was arrested for protesting against CAA-NRC. A few months after the Delhi riots took place, Khalid was booked under the UAPA. He was criticising the Central government for the law and the violence that took place later.
So whoever raises serious questions against the government can get detained and tagged as an anti-national.
Our right to freedom of speech and expression, a fundamental right, is being snatched as is our right to protest. So the question is: do we really need this Act that does not even consider our rights? Moreover, the Act is alright, but the government And the Executive working under the immense pressure of the government are not enforcing it in the right way.
The maximum period of detention under the NSA is 12 months. The order can be made by the District Magistrate or Commissioner of Police under their respective jurisdictions and a case must be reported to the state government.
One interesting case is of Dr Kafeel Khan. He was also jailed under the NSA by the UP government for inciting violence in his speech at the Aligarh Muslim University, where he raised questions on the government’s responsibility. He was released in September 2020 after serving a jail term of seven months for no apparent reason. Right after his release, he went back to his hospital to save the lives of children during the first lockdown.
Several leaders including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and MM Sayeed were kept under house arrest under the same Act after a resolution was passed against Article 370. It was unlawful as he being a MP was supposed to be there in the Lok Sabha and discuss the issues related to the resolution.
As per a 1993 report, 72.3% of the 3,783 people booked under the law were later released due to lack of evidence. Tomorrow, even we may get booked under this Act for raising questions against the government.