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Somnath against new terror law

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  • Published 22.09.08

New Delhi, Sept. 21: Somnath Chatterjee today opposed bringing any special legislation to fight terror, saying such laws were prone to misuse.

“While extraordinary laws are sometimes required to deal with extraordinary situations arising out of terrorist violence, the irony is that such extraordinary laws are prone to abuse, leading to the undermining of the rule of law,” the Lok Sabha Speaker said.

He was speaking at the inaugural meeting of the All India Conference of Presiding Officers of Legislatures at the Haryana Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh.

Although some parties have been clamouring for a stringent legislation, Chatterjee said “laws and institutional apparatuses lose potency in the sea of political ambivalence and divisiveness”.

“The first and foremost impact of such laws is felt by law-abiding citizens whose fundamental rights and liberties at times are encroached upon without providing for timely redress of grievances,” he said.

The Speaker added that “power given to law enforcement agencies, entrusted to tackle such situations, is often abused defeating the very purpose of such laws”.

Special anti-terror laws have clauses that give police enough powers to confine a person for good. Anybody can be picked up on mere suspicion and bail conditions are stringent. Also, confessions to the police are admissible as evidence in court as are tapped phone conversations.

Political parties, led by the BJP, have been pushing for a stringent anti-terror law. A section of the UPA, which repealed the Prevention of Terrorism Act, also feels the need for tougher legislation.