The two bills for setting up a National Investigation Agency and amending the law to deal with terrorism effectively were passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, with the government asserting that a balance of requirement of law and human rights had been ensured in these measures.
Replying to a five-hour debate on the two bills, Home Minister P Chidambaram sought to allay any apprehensions of misuse of the new tough measures to deal with terrorism, saying there adequate safeguards have been envisioned, including setting up of an independent authority of judicial experts to review cases that are probed and tried.
He emphasised that the amended Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) was very unlike POTA and that the new measures should not be seen from the "communal prism".
Contending that the nation could not afford to "lower its guard" as "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," he said these measures are aimed at giving a "sense of confidence" to the people as also to the police forces that culprits could not go unpunished.
Observing that the country was facing "jihadi terrorism" wherein terrorists are not deterred as they come here to die and kill, the Home Minister acknowledged that the new laws or even the POTA or MCOCA were not a "deterrent" but "punitive" in nature.
He said the new laws were aimed at giving sufficient powers to the police forces to ensure that they can investigate and secure convictions.
Underlining that the enactment of the new laws should not be seen from the "communal prism", Chidambaram said "all laws are secular, except the personal laws. Criminal laws do not recognise communities but only those who perpetrate crimes."
He said the new laws will be "applied uniformly without any discrimination. We are not concerned about caste or creed of a terrorist, if he is a terrorist. They will be prosecuted and punished."
To ensure that there is "no misuse", he said an independent authority of judicial experts would be set up to review such cases even before prosecution is launched.
"This is an important safeguard. It is for the first time that such a measure has been introduced in a criminal law so that it is not misused," he said.
"What we have done is that we have tried to balance the requirement of law, the requirement of investigations and fair trial and human rights," Chidambaram said.
While the NIA Bill was passed by a voice vote, efforts were made by some Left members to introduce some amendments in the UAPA, which were rejected.