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In a recent development, the Delhi High Court has granted bail to an individual who was accused of supporting the Islamic State (IS). The individual was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA), an anti-terror law. The court clarified that the accused’s interest in the banned terrorist organization did not equate to direct involvement.

The case in question is Ammar Abdul Rahiman v. National Investigation Agency. Rahiman was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in August 2021 and was charged under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the UAPA. The NIA alleged that Rahiman’s mobile phone contained downloaded videos related to ISIS and brutal killings, along with photographs promoting terrorism and ISIS flags, which they claimed established his radical mindset and association with ISIS.

However, the Delhi High Court granted Rahiman bail, stating that the mere presence of downloaded material on his mobile device should not lead to adverse inference. The court further emphasized that Rahiman seemed to have only downloaded and stored these contents, with no evidence of attempts to share, broadcast, or transmit them to others.

India has various laws and Acts to combat terrorism. The UAPA, enacted in 1967, allows law enforcement agencies to act against individuals and organizations engaged in unlawful activities, including terrorism. Other laws include the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (TADA), the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA), the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, and the Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016.

The UAPA was amended in 2004 and 2008 to model it as an anti-terror law. In August 2019, Parliament cleared the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds provided in the Act. The UAPA deviates from ordinary legal procedures, creating an exceptional regime where the constitutional safeguards of the accused are curtailed.

It empowers the NIA to investigate and prosecute cases under the UAPA across the country, provides for the death penalty and life imprisonment for terrorist acts, allows for the detention of suspects without charge or trial for up to 180 days, and denies bail to the accused unless the court is satisfied that they are not guilty. It defines terrorism as any act that causes or intends to cause death or injury to any person, or damage or destruction to any property, or that threatens the unity, security, or economic stability of India or any other country.

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