Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, 2022
In the first week of April 2022, the Weapons of Mass destruction and their delivery systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill 2022 was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
This Bill will amend the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act 2005.
The key amendment that the Bill seeks to enact:
- bar persons from financing any prohibited activity related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems;
- seize, freeze and or attach funds, financial assets or economic resources (whether owned, held or controlled directly or indirectly) of persons financing such prohibited activities related to WMD
- prohibit making available finances or related services available for the benefit of other persons who may be involved in prohibited activity related to WMD.
The WMD Act 2005 – highlights of this important legislation
1. The WMD Act was enacted in 2005 to prohibit unlawful activities relating to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery system.
“Weapons of mass destruction” mean and include nuclear, biological or chemical weapon(s) that can cause widespread death and destruction. In fact, the WMD Act 2005 contains express definition of
“Biological weapons” and “Chemical weapons”
Delivery systems are the platforms such a ballistic missile, cruise missiles, combat aircraft and drones and aircraft for weapons of mass destruction to be deployed and proliferated.
2. It extends to the whole of India including exclusive economic zones.
3. The Act prohibits:
- unlawful manufacture, acquisition, possession, development, transportation of
– nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices and their means of delivery;
– chemical or biological weapons
- unlawful transfer
– (direct or indirect) of any nuclear weapon or nuclear explosive device;
– of any chemical or biological weapons;
– to anyone of missiles specially designed for delivery of weapons of mass destruction
- any person not duly authorised by the Central Government from dealing with WMD and their means of delivery.
- Such prohibition of transfer applies to a terrorist or non – State actors.
- export any material or technology knowing that such material or technology is intended to be used in designing or manufacturing a biological or chemical or nuclear weapon or nuclear explosive device or their missile delivery systems.
- Shall knowingly broker the execution of a contract prohibited under this Act.
4. No item notified under this Act shall be exported, transferred, re-transferred, brought in transit or transhipped except in accordance with the provisions of this Act or any other relevant Act.
5. The Act criminalises (penalties, fines and imprisonment) unlawful activities relating to weapons of mass destruction especially pertaining to
- Transfer of WMD and missiles specially designed for their delivery, materials, equipment and technology used in WMD, fissile or radioactive material used in terrorist acts;
- Contravening provisions under this Act;
- Aiding terrorists or non -State actors;
- Making false or forged documents;
- Unauthorized exports
- Offences by Companies
Actions or proceedings taken under this Act by the Central government, or any authorized officer cannot be questioned in any civil court in any suit. No injunction shall be granted by any civil court or other authority in respect of any action taken or to be taken under these provisions.
The existing Act does not contain any express provisions relating to financial aspects of WMD and their delivery systems. Hence, financing of WMD and delivery systems became rampant. Hence the amendment has been proposed to address this issue stringently. Such provisions are also in line with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force which mandates against financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.