Greetings like “Comrade” or “Lal Salam” can land one in jail under the UAPA as per NIA’s chargesheet against Bittu Sonowal. When greetings start triggering anti-terror laws, it becomes important to revisit the definition of ‘anti-terror’. Every right guaranteed to citizen comes with a caveat taking away the absoluteness of such laws. For example, Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech and expression and at the same time Article 19(2) allows for reasonable restrictions to be imposed on the same freedom to speech and expression. While in principle, exceptions might not be problematic, yet exceptions are usually used to quell voices of the opposition.
The conviction of Prof. G.N. Saibaba by the Gadchiroli District Court on 7th March 2017 has revived questions around the UAPA, and how it has progressively eroded Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. This 8 minute illustrated video by the Media Collective documents the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in its 50th year, its contemporary application and raises questions about its constitutional validity.