Opposition in Law   (19 Sep 2008)


The recommendation of a new stringent law against terrorism by Administration Reforms Commission came as a welcome move. In fact, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had gone one step further and suggested the creation of a new central agency to help investigate the terror strikes, an idea further endorsed by President of India. However, a cabinet meeting has now decided instead to shore up intelligence and make the existing law more stringent.

Unfortunately, certain political parties with vested interests had already taken up cudgels against any new law. They are demanding reenactment of Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). Now, everyone wants terrorism to be dealt with a heavy hand and nobody is prepared to go soft on the perpetrators of terrorist attacks. Despite this notional consensus, the selfish attempts to play vote bank politics over the anti-terrorism law are totally uncalled for.

In fact, the law suggested by ARC would have been more stringent than POTA, which had some serious shortcomings; most obvious of which were its inability to prevent terrorist attacks as audacious as ones on the Parliament, Red Fort in Delhi, Raghunath Temple in Jammu and Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar. There is in fact no evidence that POTA helped to curb terrorism in any way. While there is a clear need for a more stringent law to deal with terrorism, there should be suitable precautions added to it so that it is not misused as a tool for harassment as POTA was.