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POTA to be scrapped
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 10
The UPA government today decided to repeal the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) which its alliance partners had opposed tooth and nail at the time of its passage by the previous NDA government in a joint sitting of Parliament.

Information and Broadcasting Minister S. Jaipal Reddy told reporters after the crucial Cabinet meeting here this evening that the UPA government has decided to scrap the anti-terrorism law.

“A Bill for repealing POTA will be brought before Parliament during the current session, which is resuming on August 16,” Mr Reddy said.

To take effective steps against the anti-national elements, the government has decided to amend the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, he said.

“The amendment to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act is required in the interest of national security and international obligations,” the minister said.

He said the decision to scrap POTA was taken by the Cabinet to honour the promise made by the UPA in its common minimum programme.

The draft proposal for repealing the Act was approved by the government at a meeting last month, chaired by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil.

Highly placed sources in the government said though the law was being repealed as per the promise made during elections, the anti-national forces would not be allowed to take advantage of it. The sources said the draft had simultaneously proposed incorporation of certain provisions in the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC) to deal with the anti-national elements, including terrorism and militancy.

If the Bill for repealing of POTA could not be taken up by Parliament during the Budget session for some reasons, the law would be allowed to have its natural death as it would automatically lapse in October this year.

POTA was passed in a joint session of Parliament on March 26, 2002, after Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), promulgated by the President in October, 2001, had lapsed after a period of six months.

The Congress and Left parties, had opposed the enactment of POTA by the NDA government on the ground that it would be “misused” like TADA.

Later they had alleged that the Act was being misused in some states, including Gujarat, which witnessed the worst communal riots two years ago.

The NDA, particularly the BJP, has opposed any move to repeal POTA, stating that the security agencies would find it difficult to take effective counter-terrorism measures.

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