‘Anti-national’ not defined in Statutes, Govt tells Parliament
The home ministry told Parliament on Tuesday that there is no legal definition for the term “anti-national”, though there is criminal legislation and various judicial pronouncements to deal with activities that are a threat to the country.
The ministry said this in the Lok Sabha in response to a question by All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MP Asaduddin Owaisi seeking to know whether the government had defined the meaning of “anti-national” under any legislation or rules or other legal enactment enforced in the country.
“The word ‘anti-national’ has not been defined in Statutes. However, there are criminal legislations and various judicial pronouncements to sternly deal with unlawful and subversive activities which are detrimental to the unity and integrity of the country,” minister of state for home affairs Nityanand Rai said in a written statement.
He noted that it is relevant that the Constitution (Forty–Second Amendment) Act, 1976 in Article 31D, inserted during the Emergency, defined “anti-national activity” and this Article (31D) was subsequently omitted via the Constitution (Forty-third Amendment) Act, 1977.
Owaisi also sought to know the number of people arrested for engaging in “anti national” activities during the last three years. Rai maintained that public order and police are state subjects and the data about the number of people arrested for such activities is not maintained centrally.
To be sure, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in its latest report identified four “anti-national” elements: Northeast insurgents, Left-wing extremists, jihadi extremists, and other terrorists. According to the report, these four elements were responsible for 398 violent attacks that took place in 2020. Of theSE 398 violent attacks, 240 were triggered by Left-wing extremists, 76 by jihadi extremists, 47 by Northeast insurgents and 37 by other terrorists.
Earlier this month, Parliament’s standing committee on communication and information technology, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, in its report on “ethical standards in media coverage” recommended that the government properly define terms such as “anti-national attitude” to remove any ambiguity in interpretation.