Heated exchanges in Vidhan Sabha over POTA

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Gandhinagar, Mar 3 (UNI) Gujarat Vidhan Sabha today witnessed sharp exchanges between the ruling BJP and opposition Congress members on the UPA government's decision to repeal Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).

Amit Shah, Minister of state for Home, informed the house that as many as 14 chargesheets were filed in the courts of Gujarat for POTA violation and in 10 cases courts had delivered judgement, punishing the offenders.

The minister lamented the UPA government's decision to repeal the law and this resulted in heated exchanges between ruling and opposition members.

The opposition members said POTA had created lot of controversy when the erstwhile NDA government at the centre, led by BJP, initially enacted it in June 2002. The NDA government insisted it was the best remedy to deal with terrorist activities. But it was repealed by its successor, the UPA in 2004.

The abolition of POTA, which was termed a draconian law by human rights groups, was the Manmohan Singh government's first major policy decision after taking over the office.

However, ruling party members said Gujarat government used POTA effectively to deal with terrorist activities in the state. In the Godhra train carnage case, 131 people were booked under POTA law.

The provisions of POTA allowed the detention of a suspect upto 180 days without the filing of charges in court. It also allowed law enforcement agencies to withhold the identities of witnesses and treats a confession, made to the police, as an admission of guilt.

Under regular Indian law, a person can deny such confessions in court, but not under POTA.

Though POTA has been repealed, the law is not being used to make any fresh arrests. But those already arrested under POTA will continue to fight their cases under this law and remain in jail.

UNI HT OBB SW RN1814

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