[Reader-list] Cabinet clears tough anti-terror order

Steef Heus Steef at CwaC.nl
Wed Oct 17 03:06:35 IST 2001


Hawks see their chances. It is the same everywhere these days.



NEW DELHI: The Union cabinet on Tuesday promulgated the Prevention of
Terrorism Ordinance, 2001, giving the police wide-ranging powers of
investigation and arrest whenever terrorist acts are involved.

The Ordinance goes beyond some of the stringent provisions currently
contained in the draft Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill pending in the Rajya
Sabha and is likely to revive unpleasant memories of the now-lapsed
anti-terrorism law, TADA.

Ever since TADA was scrapped because of popular protest against what was
seen as an ineffective and draconian law, successive governments have tried
to introduce fresh anti-terrorism legislation. The Criminal Law (Amendment)
Bill drafted by the Law Commission went through several revisions but even
the text that was pending in Parliament had been criticised by the National
Human Rights Commission for giving the police excessive powers.

The new Ordinance will extend even those powers, said an official release,
because an inter-ministerial group which examined the Bill found it to be
"too weak to provide a legal framework for combating terrorism".

In the new ordinance, terrorist acts have been defined as "acts done by
using weapons and explosive substances or other methods in a manner as to
cause or likely to cause death or injuries to any person or persons or loss
or damage to property or disruption of essential supplies and services with
intent to threaten the unity or integrity of India or to strike terror in
any section of the people."

While the new law differs from TADA by providing some safeguards against the
possibility that suspects could be tortured to provide confessions that
would then be admissible in a court of law, it goes beyond the old law in
one crucial sphere. It makes the withholding of "information relating to any
terrorist activity" an offence.

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