The Supreme Court on Friday said the main objective of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
A bench of Justice MR Shah, Justice CT Ravikumar and Justice Sanjay Karol said pursuant to the recommendation of the Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation, appointed by the National Integration Council Act on whose recommendation the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Act, 1963 was enacted, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) came into force.
“It appears that the National Integration Council appointed a committee on National Integration and Regionalisation to look into, inter alia, the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of sovereignty and integrity of India and thereafter the UAPA has been enacted. Therefore, the UAPA has been enacted to make powers available for dealing with the activities directed against integrity and sovereignty of India,” it said.
The bench said as per Section 10(a)(i) of the UAPA, a person cannot be punished merely because he was the member of such unlawful association but “wherein an association is declared unlawful” by notification under provisions of the law.
“So, it is only after the notification under Section 3 has become effective under subsection 3, that the latter part of that Section applies. The language of Section 10(a)(i) is also very cautiously worded ‘who is and continues to be a member of such association’. Therefore, on true interpretation, if a person has been a member but does not continue to be a member after declaration, that does not attract mischief of Section 10,” it said.
The bench said the intention seems to be that not only was he a member on the day when the association is declared unlawful, but he continues to be a member.
“The intention is very clear that not only on the given date but even after that you continue to be a member of that association which is declared as unlawful association due to unlawful activities which is found to be against the interests of sovereignty and integrity of India. Therefore, once an association is declared unlawful of whom the concerned person was the member and he wishes to continue as a member despite the fact that he is well aware of the fact that such an association is declared unlawful and if he still wishes to continue being a part of such unlawful association, it shows a conscious decision on his part and therefore, liable to be penalised for such an act of continuation of his membership with such unlawful association,” the bench said.