The Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act
) was an anti-terrorism
legislation enacted by the Parliament of India
. The act replaced the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) of 2001 and was supported by the governing National Democratic Alliance
. The act was repealed
in 2004 by the United Progressive Alliance
The act provided the legal framework to strengthen administrative rights to fight terrorism within the country of India and was to be applied against any persons and acts covered by the provisions within the act. It was not meant as a substitute for action under ordinary criminal laws.
The act defined what a terrorist act and a terrorist is and grants special powers to the investigating authorities described under the act. To ensure certain powers were not misused and human rights violations would not take place, specific safeguards were built into the act. Under the new law detention of a suspect for up to 180 days without the filing of charges in court was permitted. It also allowed law enforcement agencies to withhold the identities of witnesses and treat 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.
Once the Act became law there surfaced many reports of the law being grossly abused. Human rights and civil liberty groups fought against it. The use of the Act became one of the issues during the 2004 election. The United Progressive Alliance government of India committed to repealing the act as part of there campaigning. On October 7, 2004, the Union Cabinet
approved the repeal of POTA.
Prominent POTA cases
- Vaiko, a prominent Tamil politician, was controversially arrested under the POTA for his support to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
- S.A.R. Geelani, a lecturer at Delhi University, was sentenced to death by a special POTA court for his alleged role in the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. He was later acquitted on appeal by the Delhi Bench of the High Court.
- Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami group, arrested under POTA.
- Raghuraj Pratap Singh, a.k.a Raja Bhaiya, a mobster and Member of the Legislative Assembly of Kunda, India was arrested on the orders of then Chief Minister, Mayawati Kumari. He was sent to jail under POTA.