New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear the cases challenging the provision of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) on October 18, advancing the date of hearing from November 11.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India UU Lalit advanced the date of hearing of the cases to October 18, when a case on the same issue came up for hearing. “List these matters on October 18, 2022. The counsel appearing in the connected matters sent intimation accordingly,” the bench stated in the order.
Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for the petitioner, Foundation of Media Professionals, told the bench that a petition has been filed challenging certain provisions of UAPA.
The petition submits that the Act is a political tool disguised as an anti-terror law and is misused by the government to target any and all forms of dissent.
“The scheme of the Act is a gross assault on the freedoms protected under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution, insofar as it grants excessive and overwhelming powers to the State to act against associations and individuals who express criticism against the ruling party or majoritarian sentiments,” it added.
The petition sought to declare the Act unconstitutional, being manifestly arbitrary and violative of the fundamental rights protected under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.
The top court is seized of the various petitions, including the one filed by two lawyers, Mukesh Kumar and Ansarul Haq Ansari, and journalist Shyam Meera Singh, where UAPA was invoked against them over their social media posts regarding the communal violence in Tripura.
Some former IAS, IPS, and IFS officers have also challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the UAPA. Former IAS officials Harsh Mander, Wajahat Habibullah, Amitabha Pande, Kamal Kant Jaiswal, Hindal Hyder Tyabji, M G Devasahayam, Pradeep Kumar Deb, Baldev Bhushan Mahajan, ex-IPS officer Julio Francis Ribeiro, Ish Kumar, and former IFS officer Ashok Kumar Sharma had challenged the Act.