The Rajya Sabha on Friday passed the controversial Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019 with a huge majority even though the BJP lacks a majority in the Upper House of the parliament. The new anti-terror law gives unprecedented powers to the central government to designate an individual as a terrorist and seize his or her properties.
Even though the BJP’s current strength in the Rajya Sabha stands at 78, the anti-terror bill received support from 147 Rajya Sabha MPs. Only 42 MPs voted against the Bill. The Congress has 47 MPs in the Rajya Sabha, the Aam Aadmi Party 3, Trinamool Congress 13, Telangana Rashtra Samithi 6, YSR Congress 2, RJD 5, Samajwadi Party 12, CPI-M and CPI 6 and Mayawati-led BSP 4.
Even though Congress opposed the Bill during the debate, they voted en masse with the BJP. What helped the BJP to achieve 147 votes in favour of the Bill was 42 votes from the Congress. The Congress even opposed the Trinamool’s demand for the division of votes.
Those voting against the Bill were 13 from the Trinamool Congress, all five from the DMK, all three from the AAP, four out five from the RJD, five from Samajwadi Party, two each from the Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP and TDP, seven MPs from the Left parties and one independent MP supporting the TMC.
These parties have often projected themselves as the messiah of India’s Muslims. The TRS, in particular, has enjoyed the support of Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM. The provisions of the Bill are most likely to hit India’s Muslims, who’ve often had to bear the brunt of such draconian laws. There have been many instances of innocent Muslims languishing in jails for decades under false charges of terrorism before being freed.
Not too long ago, at least four Kashmiri youth were declared innocent after spending 23 years in jail on terrorism charges.
The Lok Sabha had already passed the anti-terror bill. On Friday, the Rajya Sabha also rejected the opposition-sponsored motion to send the amendment to select committee with 104 votes against it as compared to 85 in favour.
Those 85 MPs voting in favour of sending the Bill to select committee were all 13 MPs from Trinamool, two each from PDP and Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP, three from AAP, four out of five from RJD since Ram Jethmalani could not attend the proceedings due to poor ill health, 42 out 47 MPs from congrees, five from DMK, five MPs from Samajwadi Party, seven from the Left parties and two out of four from the NCP as Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel remained absent.
Mayawati’s all four MPs voted with the BJP.
Replying to a debate on the amendment, according to PTI, Home Minister Amit Shah said four-level scrutiny had been provided in the amendment and no human rights will be violated. Shah said that declaring individuals as terrorists was required as they floated different organisations once an institution was banned.
Shah said that individuals could be declared terrorists if they committed or participated in acts of terrorism adding that the amendment will expedite prosecution in terror cases. Shah said that terrorism had no religion and terrorists were against humanity.
The government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently managed to get other two controversial bills diluting the provisions of the RTI Act and the law criminalising triple talaq passed from the Rajya Sabha.