The Centre will not allow the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) of 2002 to return. It will only consider strengthening the existing anti-terrorism laws.
<b1>“No! It (the Pota) is a draconian (law) and against human rights,” Information and Broadcasting Minister PR Dasmunsi said on Thursday. If “the present anti-terror laws are implemented properly”, additional laws are not needed, he added.
When asked about the Centre’s plans to fight terrorism, he said: “What do you mean by tougher anti-terror laws? Some of our laws are stronger than those in the US and UK,” said Dasmunsi.
The Administrative Reforms Commission had recently recommended anti-terror provisions similar to the repealed Pota. But the Commission’s report had too not gone well with the government. Science minister Kapil Sibal had argued that laws like Pota had a conviction rate of less than 0.5 per cent.
Dasmunsi’s anti-Pota stance came a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke about the need for legislation to strengthen existing anti-terror laws.
Singh did not actually say anything about a new law, but some ministers cautioned him at the special Cabinet meet on Wednesday against any move that could be seen as targeting the minorities.
Among the decisions taken at the meeting were: A scheme to strengthen security in cities like Delhi and Mumbai; strengthening states’ Intelligence; setting up a dedicated R&D centre at the Intelligence Bureau.
The Cabinet also decided to put ammonium nitrate — used in the UP, Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi blasts - under the purview of the Explosive Substances Act.
Union Home secretary Madhukar Gupta said a group of home ministry officials is identifying ways to strengthen the anti-terror legal framework. “The issue of a central agency is also being looked into,” he said.