[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Friday, 17 September, 2004, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
India withdraws anti-terror law
Indian parliament attack, December 2001
Pota came in after the Indian parliament attack in late 2001
The Indian cabinet agreed at a meeting on Friday to repeal the country's controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota).

The Congress government - elected in May - has consistently said Pota is misused, particularly against Muslims.

The act was brought in by the Hindu nationalist BJP after an attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil said the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act would be amended to cover terrorism.

'Draconian'

Mr Patil told a press conference the government would bring forward an ordinance to withdraw Pota and another to amend the 47-year-old Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Muslims in Delhi
Critics say that Pota discriminated against Muslims

Mr Patil said one of the main problems with Pota had been that it required the accused to prove their innocence rather than the prosecution to prove guilt.

He said the purpose of repealing the law was to ensure innocent people did not suffer.

He said bail provisions under Pota were also very difficult, resulting in long custodial terms for the accused.

Mr Patil said all pending Pota cases would be reviewed by a committee within one year.

We have been traumatised by this law. The cabinet's decision will bring respite to many Kashmiri families
Javed Mir, separatist leader,
Indian-controlled Kashmir

"After one year, everything will come to an end," Mr Patil said.

Pota had come under attack from human rights groups as a draconian measure.

But the Bharatiya Janata Party has defended the law that former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee introduced after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US and the attack on the Indian parliament - blamed on Kashmir separatists - the following December.

It has already objected to the withdrawal, saying national security could be compromised.

Pota broadened the scope of the death penalty and gave prosecuting lawyers more scope to detain and interrogate suspects.

Critics say that, following the religious riots in Gujarat state of 2002, Muslims were unfairly singled out.


SEE ALSO:
Analysis: The problems with Pota
17 Sep 04  |  South Asia
India's anti-terror law faces axe
27 May 04  |  South Asia
Amnesty condemns rights abuses
28 May 03  |  South Asia
Indian politician charged with terror
04 Apr 03  |  South Asia
Anti-terror charges over Godhra attack
19 Feb 03  |  South Asia


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific