Section 2(1)(o) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) which defines ‘unlawful activity’ has been challenged before the Supreme Court of India [Mukesh v. State of Tripura].
The petition has been filed by two advocates and one journalist, who have been booked under UAPA in connection with their social media posts and work related to the recent communal violence in Tripura. They have assailed Section 2(1)(o) read with Sections 13 and 43D(5) of the UAPA. The petitioners have contended that the definition of ‘unlawful activity’ prohibits innocuous speech by threat of punishment.
While Section 2(1)(o) defines ‘unlawful activity’, Section 13 provides for punishment for ‘unlawful activity’ and Section 43D(5) lays down restrictions on grant of bail for UAPA offences.
“The definition casts a ‘wide net’ on freedom of speech and expression and makes even ideas, thoughts and discussions which pose no threat to security of India and have no tendency to create public disorder punishable under Section 13 of the Act of 1967. The over broad language of the section leaves open the possibility that the person criticising measures of government or acts of public officials, might also come within the ambit of the penal section,” the plea said.