One of the various problems that the Indian democracy has been facing since the turn of this century is isolated yet recurring incidents of brutal suppression of dissent

Team Law Community
August 4, 2020


One of the various problems that the Indian democracy has been facing since the turn of this century is isolated yet recurring incidents of brutal suppression of dissent. It is often quoted how “freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent,and debate.” But this seems to be a mere distant ideal, the attainment of which is still a pipe dream.

One of the main tools that the current administration has used on quite a few occasions to shut down opinions contrary to its policies is the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (“UAPA”). The only problem with UAPA is that it has all the ingredients to be misused by the administration for the purpose of curbing protests. The aim of this discussion would be to generate a better understanding about the draconian provisions and their application in light of the recent trends in the nation.

UAPA and the brutal suppression of Anti-CAA protests

The latest change in the citizenship law attracted widespread criticism on the grounds of being completely against the constitutional principles that India has been founded upon. The anti-Islamic undertones of this legislation triggered large scale protests across the country. The capital city, Delhi was the most affected owing to the demonstrations by various student groups at universities such as JNU and JMI. Such a display was not tolerated by the administration and various student leaders as well as activists were detained preventively under the act.

Custodial torture, non-granting of bail, poor conditions in detention centers are just a few of the issues which indicate towards administrative arbitrariness in dealing with public opposition to the law and is in complete non conformity to Article 21 of the Constitution. Deprivation of life and liberty in accordance to procedure established by law can be used as a justification only to an extent. When the detention is based along communal lines, it becomes unlawful since no administrative action can adverse to a section of people simply because of their community.

From Umar Khalid to Safoora Zargar, there has been a lot of injustice meted out to opponents of the communal law in terms of custodial rights. For instance, Safoora Zargar was (and still is) detained in the overcrowded Tihar Prison despite her pregnancy. Similarly the bail applications of Umar Khalid and other student activists from JMI were also denied since the provisions of UAPA had been invoked. In the times of a pandemic, there needs to be a balance between denying bail (liberty) and granting the same to ensure that the alleged offenders do not contract COVID-19 (life).

There has been a lot of international towards the Delhi riots and gross misuse of UAPA for brutally crushing the protest movements through prolonged and indefinite detentions to the arrested. Such a suppression of civil liberties unreasonably is not only unlawful but also does not conform to various international conventions which have been ratified by India such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The way in which the state machinery has been grossly misuse discondemnable and needs to be rectified through strict judicial action.


It would be fitting to conclude by quoting the great American President Theodore Roosevelt that, “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President”.Even though there has been a lot of high handedness on display in the manner of quelling the anti-CAA protests, it has generated a huge discourse regarding change in draconian laws to ensure preservation of human rights and the constitutional morals which form the foundation of this great nat