RECOVERING JUSTICE FROM ROT

“POTA was repealed in 2004. Yet, the trials its implementation has entailed are continuing till date. POTA was repealed for the gross violation of human rights it caused to the accused persons due to abuse of power by the police.

This is an important aspect to be kept in mind while deciding this case and hence, it was pertinent to mention this in the beginning to say that we are wary of the abuse the provisions of this Act might bring.”

POTA was repealed when the last NDA government was ousted. In its place, the pre-existing Unlawful Activities Prevention Act was fortified. Though UAPA does not allow confessions as evidence, as much as a whisper of ‘terrorism’ can produce wonders. The Sessions court, convicting Ashfaq in the Red Fort attack case, held that: “Even if there is some torture or illegality committed by the police officials in the course of investigation, the same does not render the evidence inadmissible.” (See ‘An Unfair Verdict: A Report on the Red Fort Attack by the People’s Union for Democratic Rights’.

 

Terror cases are tried under UAPA for years without sanction being obtained; and when granted, sanction is often proved in court by way of a lowly clerk in the state home ministry testifying to his officer’s signature on the sanction order.

When the UAPA was being amended in Parliament after the 2008 Mumbai attack, LK Advani rued the absence of admissibility of confessions.

Today, his former protégé, who built his initial political career at least partly on the blusterous rhetoric of terrorism—deploying Godhra, Akshardham, the Haren Pandya murder and
numerous other POTA cases and encounter killings as strategic political resources— is preparing for a new counter-terrorism regime.

As though to inaugurate the effort, Singhal—arrested in 2013 by the CBI for leading the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter, and protagonist of the Akshardham attack case—was reinstated by the Gujarat government.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: JUNE 2014