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Move to check misuse of terror law

Ranchi, May 2: The Jharkhand government today vested the power to invoke the anti-terror legislation on deputy commissioners and superintendents of police to prevent misuse of the law.

The government’s move to clip the wings of officers-in-charge of 312 police stations all over the state follows a strong protest by the National Human Rights Commission on the rampant misuse of the anti-terror legislation in Jharkhand.

This had led to an uproar in Parliament, which prompted deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani to ask the Arjun Munda government early this month to review cases under the legislation. Over the past six months, more than 200 people, including minors, have been booked under the law in the state.

A report by the rights commission had pointed out that apart from three minors, most of those booked under the anti-terror legislation were victims of personal vendetta and had fallen out with the law. The review undertaken by the Jharkhand government on Advani’s urging had led to the withdrawal of 83 of these cases.

At present, powers to invoke provisions of the anti-terror legislation are vested on officers-in-charge of police stations, senior home department officials said.

They are given a free hand to clamp the anti-terror law “to curb the growing menace of extremism that has so far enveloped more than 19 of the 22 districts of the state”, the officials added.

Once cases under anti-terror legislation had been instituted, they were sent to the state government through the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police for sanction, which gave its consent in a routine manner, claimed the officials.

They conceded that the “free hand” allowed to the officers-in-charge manifested in the booking of minors, innocent people and anyone who dared to fall out of favour with local police stations.

Home secretary J.B. Tubid quoted a circular to deputy commissioners and superintendents of police stating that all powers previously vested with the local police stations to invoke the anti-terror legislation have been withdrawn. “The circular has specified that only the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police have been made the ‘appropriate authority’ to decide whether to clamp the anti-terror legislation or not on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

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