Enemy Agents Ordinance:

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June 25, 2024

Enemy Agents Ordinance:

Why in News? The J&K DGP R R Swain has said that those found helping terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir should be tried by probe agencies under the Enemy Agents Ordinance, which is much harsher than the UAPA and has the punishment of either life term or death sentence.

  • The Enemy Agents Ordinance, 2005 (1948) was promulgated under Section 5 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution Act, 1996.
  • It describes “enemy” as “any person, directly or indirectly, participating or assisting in the campaign undertaken by raiders from outside in subverting the Government established by law in the Union territory of J&K.
  • Enemy agent”, according to it, means a person not operating as a member of enemy armed force, who is employed by or works for or acts on instructions received from the enemy.
  • Crimes under the Ordinance are punishable with death or rigorous imprisonment for life or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine.
  1. Prohibited Activities:

Espionage: Activities involving the gathering of secret or confidential information without authorization, which is intended to be delivered to a foreign power.

Sabotage: Deliberate actions aimed at damaging or disrupting vital infrastructure, military assets, or other critical facilities.

Subversive Activities: Efforts to undermine the authority or stability of the state, including incitement to violence, spreading of propaganda, and other actions that threaten national security.

  1. Powers Granted to Authorities:

Arrest and Detention: The ordinance usually grants law enforcement and security agencies the power to arrest and detain suspected enemy agents without warrant for a specified period.

Search and Seizure: Authorities may have the power to search premises, seize documents, and confiscate equipment believed to be used for enemy activities.

Surveillance: Enhanced powers to conduct surveillance and intercept communications of suspected individuals or groups.

  1. Legal Procedures:

Special Courts: Cases involving enemy agents may be tried in special courts or tribunals with procedures tailored for handling sensitive information.

Burden of Proof: The ordinance might adjust the standard burden of proof, considering the nature of intelligence and security work, which often relies on classified information.

  1. Penalties:
  • The ordinance typically prescribes severe penalties for those found guilty of being enemy agents, including long-term imprisonment, fines, and in some cases, capital punishment.

Objectives of the Enemy Agents Ordinance

  1. National Security: To protect the country from espionage, sabotage, and subversion by hostile entities.
  2. Deterrence: To deter individuals and groups from engaging in activities that threaten national security.
  3. Swift Justice: To ensure quick and effective legal action against those involved in enemy activities, minimizing prolonged threats.

Historical and Contemporary Context

  • Historical Context: Many countries have enacted such ordinances during times of war or heightened international tension. For example, during World War II, several countries introduced laws to counter espionage and sabotage by enemy agents.
  • Contemporary Context: In the modern era, such ordinances are often part of broader counter-terrorism and national security frameworks. They are designed to address threats not only from state actors but also from non-state actors such as terrorist organizations.

Examples and Application

  1. India: During and after World War II, India, under British rule, had regulations addressing enemy agents to counter threats from Axis powers and their supporters.
  2. United States: The Espionage Act of 1917 and the subsequent National Security Act are examples of American laws aimed at countering espionage and subversive activities.
  3. United Kingdom: The Official Secrets Act serves a similar purpose, protecting state secrets and countering espionage.

Criticisms and Concerns

  1. Human Rights: Such ordinances often raise concerns regarding civil liberties and human rights, particularly regarding detention without trial, surveillance, and the broad powers granted to authorities.
  2. Abuse of Power: There is a risk of misuse or abuse of these laws for political purposes or to suppress dissent.
  3. Transparency and Oversight: Ensuring adequate oversight and transparency in the implementation of these laws is critical to prevent violations of due process.


The Enemy Agents Ordinance is a critical tool for maintaining national security, especially in times of conflict or heightened threats from foreign adversaries. While it provides necessary powers to counter espionage and subversion, it must be implemented with safeguards to protect civil liberties and prevent misuse. The balance between security and individual rights remains a pivotal consideration in the application of such ordinances.

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Enemy Agents Ordinance: | Vaid ICS Institute