The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vaiko blasts terror law

New Delhi, Nov. 19: MDMK leader Vaiko has sought a directive from the Supreme Court to strike down as “unconstitutional” certain sections of the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

In his writ petition from the Vellore central prison, Vaiko has contended that Section 21 of the law — which stipulates that one could be arrested for speaking in support of a banned terrorist organisation — infringes upon the fundamental right of freedom of expression and “therefore (is) unconstitutional”.

This is the first time that an NDA partner has not only opposed the law but also sought striking down of certain provisions as “unconstitutional” after pushing it through in Parliament as the “need of the hour to curb terrorism”.

Vaiko was arrested on July 11 at Chennai airport for his alleged pro-LTTE speech earlier at Thirumangalam near Madurai. Vaiko, who has been languishing in jail since, has broken his “vow” not to appeal for bail and moved the apex court, seeking relief and remedy.

Vaiko’s step follows MDMK “murmurs” about “step-motherly treatment” by the BJP. The saffron party did nothing about his arrest, except issuing a statement that the law was “politically used” by Jayalalithaa. This is in marked contrast to the BJP’s intervention when DMK chief M. Karunanidhi was arrested earlier. L.K. Advani, as Union home minister, even provided Central security to Karunanidhi.

Vaiko has gunned for Section 21 of the law, which, he says, “curtails his personal liberty” and hence “is unconstitutional and the petitioner is entitled to challenge the constitutionality of the said provision to protect his fundamental right as guaranteed in the Constitution”.

Vaiko has stated that the Act could be abused for “political purposes” and “misuse” of Section 21, which is “vulnerable for political oppression”, “is imminent”. It should be declared violative of Article 21 of the Constitution, guaranteeing the right to life, he said.

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