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Govt tables bill for a new anti-terror law


Meetu Jain,CNN-IBN
Dec 16, 2008 at 11:16pm IST

New Delhi: United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government is giving more teeth to its anti-terror plan.

Nearly three weeks after the Mumbai terror attacks Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday introduced two bills in the Lok Sabha to deal with terror strikes.

The National Investigation Agency Bill 2008 and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill were moved by Chidambaram, a day after the Union Cabinet gave its nod to such measures.

The National Investigative Agency will allow setting up of special courts to try terror cases anywhere in the country. Notwithstanding law and order being the state subject, officers of the NIA above the rank of sub inspector will have special powers to pursue and investigate any offence related to terror across the country.

Officers of the agency would enjoy all powers, duties, privileges and liabilities which the local police officers have in connection with cases related to terror.

The existing Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act allowed police custody and filing of chargesheet only up to 90 days.

The burden of proof was on the prosecution and it wasn't stringent enough to refuse bail to foreign terrorists.

The amendments introduced falls short of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA) essentially because it doesn't admit confessional statement as evidence. The new law is also silent about phone intercepts and tapped conversations.

The key amendments include

  • Police custody up to 180 days
  • Chargesheet in 180 days
  • No bail to a foreign terrorist
  • Burden of proof of innocence on the accused
  • Freezing and attachment of assets of terrorists
  • Punishment up to 10 years for possessing weapons
  • Jail term of five years to life sentence for raising funds or organising camps for terrorism related activities

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