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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 16:28 GMT
India's anti-terror measures
Indian Police Rapid Action Force
The bill gives police sweeping new powers
The Indian Government says the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), which was passed in a rare joint session of parliament on Tuesday, is vital to national security.

Opposition politicians and human rights groups say the sweeping powers granted by the bill could be misused to suppress political opponents, religious minorities and ethnic groups.

Either way, the provisions laid down in the bill are stringent.

  • Under the bill, a suspect can be detained for up to 90 days without trial, compared to 24 hours under India's normal criminal code.

  • The death penalty can be handed down for any alleged terrorist activity that results in one or more deaths.

  • Police now have sweeping powers to tap private telephone lines and set up other communication intercepts.

  • They may also seize cash and property deemed to be the proceeds of terrorism.

  • The ordinance calls for lengthy prison terms for anyone "conspiring, advocating, abetting, advising or inciting a terrorist act". This includes harbouring terrorists.

  • A maximum 10-year jail term is set down for anyone inviting support for a terrorist organisation or arranging, managing or assisting in a meeting addressed by a member of a terrorist organisation.

  • The ordinance envisages the formation of autonomous special courts to hear cases related to POTO.

  • It also bars citizens from suing either the state or the federal government in connection with the legislation.

See also:

26 Mar 02 | South Asia
23 Mar 02 | South Asia
21 Mar 02 | South Asia
19 Mar 02 | South Asia
25 Oct 01 | South Asia
06 Dec 01 | Americas
22 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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