How the UAPA and the NIA are used to crush dissent -Divya Trivedi

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published Published on Apr 9, 2021   modified Modified on Mar 25, 2021

-Frontline.in

Senior advocate Rebecca Mammen John on how the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the National Investigation Agency are being “weaponised” against Indians who hold a different viewpoint from the government.

Rebecca Mammen John, Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India, believes that a larger public debate, along with consistent judicial interventions, is the need of the hour if the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is to be removed from the statute books. One of India’s leading criminal lawyers, she has handled several UAPA cases, including of those accused in the Delhi riots cases such as the Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam and the activist Khalid Saifi. Sharjeel, Khalid and others who have been charged under the UAPA have maintained that they were only leading protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, for which they were targeted as dissenters.

Rebecca John has been a vocal advocate against the death penalty and always speaks her mind on the pressing issues of the day. At a recent webinar on “The Right to Dissent”, she stated: “Jail is the rule and bail is the exception now, and journalists have to seek legal opinion on their articles before publishing.”

Last year, she obtained an acquittal for Kobad Ghandy, ten years after he had first been accused of being a member of the politburo of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and was charged under the UAPA among other laws. She represents Professor G.N. Saibaba, a former professor of Delhi University who is 90 per cent disabled and who has been interned in an “anda cell” (solitary confinement) in Nagpur Central Jail for his alleged links with Maoists. She also represents several members of the Tablighi Jamaat who were in the eye of the storm during the COVID-19 pandemic. Accused of being “superspreaders”, they were arrested and lodged in different parts of the country. Many of them have since got bail.

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Frontline.in, 9 April, 2021, https://frontline.thehindu.com/cover-story/how-the-uapa-and-the-nia-are-used-to-crush-dissent-interview-rebecca-john/article34119060.ece?homepage=true&fbclid=IwAR3VjRGSZCm5qwA3OpfKCjwKstOdb4C3oFkiwJGbvROK3rRw71ZNfkvxGZg


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