Friday, December 7, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Govt bows to Opposition demand on POTO
Tribune News Service & Pti

New Delhi, December 6
The government today finally bowed to the Opposition demand of bringing changes in the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance by including reduction of operational period of the proposed law from five to three years, official sources said.

While the Cabinet decided to withdraw the provision relating to the freedom of the Press, it approved the setting up of a judicial mechanism on forfeiture of property.

The meeting was presided over by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The reduction in the sunset clause on the operational period of the proposed law had been suggested by the Telugu Desam Party while the section relating to the forfeiture of property was put forward by NCP leader Sharad Pawar during the all-party meeting on POTO.

The Cabinet reduced the operational period of the proposed legislation to three years keeping in view the remaining term of the present Lok Sabha which would expire in October, 2004, the sources said.

They said a decision on the continuance of the sunset clause should be left to the new Lok Sabha when it took over after the expiry of the present House.

On deletion of Section 3(8) dealing with disclosure of the journalists' sources of information regarding terrorist activities, they said many political parties, including NDA partners like the TDP and the Trinamool Congress, objected to this provision saying mediapersons, political opponents and innocent citizens, would fall victim to this clause.

Since there was a general view against this clause, the Cabinet decided to delete it totally, the sources said.

On the issue of forfeiture of terrorist properties, the Cabinet decided to work out a judicial mechanism for the purpose, while leaving the attachment of such properties to the designated authorities which would generally be an officer of the Joint Secretary rank, the sources said.

They said three Sections of the proposed legislation would have to be amended for this purpose.

The amended version of the proposed legislation to replace POTO was likely to be circulated to the MPs by Sunday, so that the law could be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday or Tuesday, they said.Back


Panthic Morcha to oppose POTO
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
The support extended by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) to Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) came in for sharp criticism from the Panthic Morcha leader and a close associate of former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

“The POTO ordinance is more draconian than the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA). This act was misused against the minorities and several persons in Punjab bore its brunt,” Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, a senior leader of Sarb Hind Akali Dal, said here today.

He said the Panthic Morcha would not support POTO when it comes up for discussion in Parliament.

Mr Harinder Pal Singh, a member of the SGPC, said “the support extended by SAD (Badal), which is a representative of the minority community in the government, to POTO is beyond any rationale thinking.”

He said: “The ideology of the Akali Dal has always been to fight against and oppose discrimination and unjust rulings. But now it seems that SAD (Badal) is ready to change that ideology to please the BJP and to meets its own ends.”

Mr Chandumajra said POTO with its harsh provision is “violative of the human rights of individuals and undermines the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution.”

He accused the leader of SAD (Badal) of engaging in double speak on the issue.

On SHAD’s political strategy during the forthcoming Assembly polls in Punjab, Mr Chandumajra, who is said to be the right hand man of Mr Tohra, said the party would contest 60 to 70 seats on its own and the remaining seats would be contested by the allies.

He indicated that the BSP would be the biggest ally which would be given about 50 seats to contest in the 117-member Punjab Assembly.

On the possibility of the Left parties contesting as part of the Panthic Morcha, he said the party would welcome the Left party, however, it seems they are undecided which way to go — Panthic Morcha or Congress.Back

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