There is no chance that Gujarat will get its version of a POTA-like law; the Central anti-terror law, however, could be strengthened.
The Central government, which has steadfastly defended repeal of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) due to its widespread misuse, seems to have accepted that India’s anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, did need some of its teeth sharpened.
“The whole issue of how the anti-terror law can be strengthened further is being examined in considerable detail,” a senior government official said on conditions of anonymity on Monday.
But the exercise is going to be a tough balancing act. On the one hand, the government wants to address concerns of the security establishment that has been pushing for a stringent law to deal with terrorism and at the same time, ensure that the law did not give unbridled powers to them that would again be misused. Officials said care would need to be taken to keep out provisions that may be possibly subject to misuse. “It is a complex issue,” the official said.
The Centre has withheld presidential assent to an anti-terror law enacted by the Gujarat assembly. The home ministry made it clear that there was no way the home ministry could advice assent for this law, not after the ministry got Parliament to repeal POTA, a central law on the same lines.