Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
States, MPs backed law panel's draft POTO

States, MPs backed law panel's draft POTO

Author: Pioneer News Service/New Delhi
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: November 17, 2001

The Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) story is getting curiouser and curiouser. The POTO is in some ways a revised version of the Law Commission's draft Prevention of Terrorism, 2000, Bill which was circulated to the States for their response.

Hardly any State, with the exception of Kerala, said that there was no requirement for a central anti-terrorism law. Madhya Pradesh was uncertain whether such a piece of legislation was needed to tackle terrorism. West Bengal first agreed that the law was needed, but subsequently changed its opinion on the issue.

But, the Governments of Delhi, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Goa felt that an anti-terrorism law was required. And, Congress spokesman S Jaipal Reddy's opposition to POTO "per se" does not square up with the fact that most of the States which supported the Law Commission draft in principle were Congress-administered.

The POTO story does not end there. On July 17, 2000, a meeting of the consultative committee for the Ministry of Home Affairs was held to discuss the "proposed provisions of a new law on anti-terrorism."

Those who attended the meeting included Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress), G M Banatwala (Muslim League), Ram Gopal Yadav (Samajwadi Party), Narendra Mohan (Bharatiya Janata Party), Somnath Chatterjee (Communist Party of India Marxist), Karan Singh (Congress), Shivraj Patil (Congress) and V N Gadgil (Congress). With the exception of Mr Banatwala and Mr Ram Gopal Yadav, no one present felt that there was no need to bring forward a central law against terrorism. Many members felt the need to improve safeguards and take a second look at some of the restrictive provisions of the Bill. There was a consensus that a law was needed to tackle terrorism.

The minutes of the meeting state that Mr Azad was of the view that there is a need for a law to combat growing terrorism. "Although, the erstwhile TADA had been misused, the Law Commission's proposed Bill has several good provisions," the minutes state. Mr Azad pointed out that the provision that stipulated that in case of arrest relatives of the detained person were to be informed was one such. Mr Azad also felt that provisions relating to custody memo, presence of a lwayer during interrogation, punishments to erring police personnel were praiseworthy. He, however, did feel that apprehensive over onus of proving innocence being on the accused, disclosure of information and admissibility of confessions. But, he did not oppose the Bill itself.

Senior CPI(M) leader Somnath Chatterjee, whose party has violently opposed POTO, stated that the as he came from a "border State", his party was not totally against an anti-terrorism legislation by the Centre. There is an experience of TADA being misused. "Although USA and UK laws have been examined, it would be wise to know what Israel is doing on the subject. He said that he is not against a law on terrorism but the proposed bill is bad." the minutes note.

In fact, Mr Chatterjee stressed that there should be provisions for speedy trials and the proposed law needed to be discussed very closely, clause by clause, by a standing committee or select committee of Parliament. Again, he did not say that there was no requirement for an anti-terrorism law. Mr Swaraj Kaushal expressed the view that the draft Bill appears to be good in law and irrespective of the opinion of the National Human Rights Commission, a law was needed to safeguard the unity and integrity of the country. Former Lok Sabha Speaker and Congress leader Shivraj Patil expressed the opinion there was need for a social, financial and legal change to counter terrorism. Some special law was needed. He clarified that the provisions of the Bill did not put the onus of proof onto the accused as mentioned by some speakers.

Mr Patil's colleague, Mr V N Gadgil, said that a special anti-terrorism law would take a permanent place in the Statute books in the country as insurgency cannot be abolished.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements