Ex-chief of RAW suggests balancing of civil liberties, responsibility of state

Hormis Thairakan, former chief of The Research and Analysis Wing, speaking at an international seminar at the Government Law College in Kozhikode on Tuesday. C. Naseema, Professor of Education and Director, Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension, University of Calicut, is at right.  

Hormis Tharakan, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), has called for a proper balancing of civil liberties, individual human rights and responsibility of the state.

Delivering the keynote address at a seminar on international legal norms on “Terrorism and counter-terrorism: promises, experiences and challenges” organised by the Kozhikode Government Law College here on Tuesday, he said that the government must ensure at least three measures to protect its people. One of them was justifying all restrictions publicly. Another was submitting them to judicial review, and finally, providing sunset clauses so that temporary does not become permanent.

He also suggested that the general public think whether a special anti-terror law was a sine qua non in dealing with terrorism. “Can we curtail human rights violations by making such changes in the law that would provide officers fighting terrorism with adequate legal backing for their bona fide actions and make their task a little easier?” Mr. Tharakan asked.

However, he maintained quoting Lord Denning that the freedom of an individual must take second place to the security of the state. “It is a debate that will never end, but is of great significance,” he said.

Mr. Tharakan said that the on-going process of balancing human rights and coercive powers of the state in preventing and investigating acts of terrorism provided a fascinating study. Different countries such as the U.S. , U.K., France and India deal with terrorism through various means, including legislation.

The Patriot Act of the U.S. (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) of 2001 in response to the September 11 attacks was the most comprehensive anti-terrorism law anywhere in the world. Despite the criticism of curtailment of civil liberties, the Act has, by and large, helped U.S. authorities prevent another attack on their homeland, he said.

On countering terrorism, Mr. Tharakan said that the best way to get information from even a recalcitrant subject was to apply the subtle arts of investigations rather than instruments of torture.

P. Vinod Bhattathiripad, International Cyber Forensic Expert, who presented a topic on terrorism and cyber forensics, said that cyber forensics was an effective alternative to traditional mode of torturous interrogation. At times, when there were no human witnesses, the only way out was investigation based on science and mathematics.

Stating that the quality of evidence had prime importance in the court of law, Dr. Bhattathiripad said that digital evidence could be proved under the context of Indian criminal laws.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 5:37:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/ex-chief-of-raw-suggests-balancing-of-civil-liberties-responsibility-of-state/article26122974.ece

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