Fighting terror

Fighting terror



 The bill militates against the well-accepted norms of jurisprudence and fairness and is liable to be misused, as similar laws like the POTA in the past. The Central government has pointed out three most objectionable provisions in the bill to justify its decision. The bill makes confessions to the police a ground for judicial conviction, gives a veto power for the public prosecutor in the matter of grant of bail and extends pre-trial detention from three months to six months. They practically make the state the deciding authority on the culpability of the accused and shifts the power away from the courts. The threat of terror cannot be used as an excuse to abridge the ordinary rights of people and compromise the rule of law.

The POTA was repealed because it contained provisions similar to those in the Gujarat bill. Maharashtra and Karnataka have laws which have very draconian provisions but these received Presidential assent when the NDA government was in power. The constitutional validity of these laws, supposedly to fight terrorism, is yet to be tested too. This is not to argue that strict legislation is unnecessary to address the problem of terrorism but to underline the need to handle it within the framework of a constitutional system. Bills on similar lines by Andhra Pradesh and  Rajasthan  should also be judged in the light of the same norms  which were used to judge the Gujarat bill. Since terrorism poses the same kind of challenge, it should be handled on the basis of a national consensus.

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has accused the Centre of political bias and does not see the need to make any changes in the bill. He feels removing the controversial provisions will make the law ineffective. This is in line with his and his party’s view that the harshest laws are required to fight terrorism, howevermuch they go against the rights of citizens. The view has been proved wrong by experience, but they have refused to accept it.

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