NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Centre on a plea challenging certain provisions of the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana issued notice to the Centre and tagged the plea filed by ex IAS officer Amitabha Pande and others with a similar petition.

Senior advocate C U Singh, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the UAPA is being used to quell dissent.

“Heard Mr. C U Singh, senior counsel appearing for the petitioners and carefully perused the material available on record. Issue notice. Liberty is also granted to serve the Standing counsel for the Union of India,” the bench also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kanta said.

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The plea has sought to declare the proviso to Section 43D(5) (restrictions on grant of bail), as manifestly arbitrary and ultra vires of Article 21 (Right to liberty) of the Constitution.

It has also sought the constitution of a redressal mechanism for people accused of carrying out “unlawful activities” to have the same opportunity of clearing their name as is statutorily available under the UAPA to “Unlawful Associations”.

The plea contended, “accusing a person of having committed a ‘terrorist act’, by saying the person ‘struck terror’ cannot be sustained, in the absence of a definition of the word ‘terror’…This is open-ended, ill-defined, and arbitrary.”

“Direct the Union of India to set up a suitable scheme for compensating people who are incarcerated under the UAPA and who are eventually acquitted, with the quantum of compensation increases in proportion to the time spent in jail,” the plea said.