Saturday, December 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



India needs to have POTO minus its darker aspects

The Tribune has done well to initiate a debate on POTO (Nov 21). Terrorism is now a universal phenomenon, threatening the entire civilised world. Therefore, even Mr V. Eshwar Anand, while opposing POTO, has to admit that adequate measures are necessary to tackle terrorism. According to him, terrorism can be effectively tackled by sprucing up the existing laws and for this reason POTO is unnecessary.

But as experience has shown, the existing legal and judicial system is not adequate even to tackle ordinary crime. The Supreme Court has noted with anguish the high acquittal rate in criminal trials. Against this backdrop, POTO or a such like special law would be justified.

Mr Anand has raised two main objections against POTO. It has got some darker aspects and there are some apprehensions that these may be misused. So far as the misuse is concerned even good laws may be misused. Therefore, terrorists cannot be conceded a free hand simply because an anti-terrorism law may be misused. The alleged misuse can be minimised by constant supervision by the higher echelons of the security forces and bureaucracy. For that matter judicial supervision is always there.

If TADA was misused by the police in Punjab, a large number of police officers in Punjab are facing criminal trials for alleged excesses and abuse of power. The arguments and exposition of Mr Amar Chandel are well-balanced and make out a strong case for POTO minus its "darker aspects". The nation must act firmly but wisely.


Let POTO in toto: We are going through reports of killings of innocent persons and even security forces on a daily basis. There is all round pessimism in the public mind. In the absence of effective laws, some loopholes in the judicial system and insanity of the militants, the situation in various parts of the country is going from bad to worse. The opposition parties label the government as weak and in the same breath oppose POTA, which the government is determined to put through so as to take on the militants.


The main opposition party, the Congress, is caught in a funny situation. POTO-like laws are in force in some Congress-ruled states, but the same are being opposed at the national level. This is nothing but hypocracy.

The national media is unfortunately not playing a positive role. A leading English daily, on three consecutive days and with prominence on its front page, has been coming out with a story of sealing of one house and taking into custody some members of a family for a day under POTO. But these story-writers tend to forget that the militants do not drop out of heaven and after killings and destruction return there. These mindless fundamentalists are fed, sheltered and financed by some local elements. To plug such and other sources, which help flourish militancy, POTO-like laws are a necessity. Some margin of error in judgement is inevitable in these extraordinary circumstances.

J. K. MAGO, Panchkula


A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has come down heavily on the state of Punjab “for issuing a notification withdrawing the minimum qualifying marks for the P.M.E.T. — 2001 candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes categories, besides other backward classes, along with sportsmen and handicapped persons” (Nov 30). The high court has ruled that this would be violation of the prescribed standards of education of the Medical Council of India.

Going by the same logic, exemption granted to the NRI-sponsored candidates from the entrance tests altogether would appear to be still more wrong and objectionable. It only helps managements/proprietors of private medical colleges to run their institutions for bigger profits. In case of government colleges, this fetches more money but leads to a decrease in opportunities for more meritorious but poor candidates. It also commercialises education and creates two distinct categories of students on the basis of wealth. This does not appear to be in the best interests of the country, though it may help the rich NRIs.

It is also not consistent with the concept of a society based on justice and equity. All should have equal opportunity to receive education and the economically weak should be helped by the state by a system of stipends. The only condition for admission to higher and professional education should be merit for eligibility and nothing else.

I am aware of the fact this practice in favour of NRI candidates draws support from a judgement of the Supreme Court of India. Is it not time to have a debate on this subject and consider approaching the apex court to review the position in the light of actual experience?


Our traffic cops

It was interesting to read Kiran Bedi's "My maiden duty". I would like to inform her that our traffic cops at Amritsar are friendlier than her trainees. They allow their friends to encroach upon roads. One can see auto sellers and workshops on roads. They even allow taxis, cars and buses to park in the no-parking zones. Over-loaded buses with pressure horns are allowed. Fifty-year-old vans ply without number plates.

BRIJ BEDI, Amritsar

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