Today's Paper

CM opposes move to amend POTA

CHENNAI OCT. 26. The Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, today opposed the move to amend the Prevention of Terrorism Act and give statutory powers to the Central and State Review Committees.

Taking note of media reports that the amendments would allow the review committees to ``intervene in and interfere with'' the functioning of the special courts set up by the State Governments under the Act and to call for records of on-going trials, Ms. Jayalalithaa said this would amount to demeaning the independence of the judiciary.

In a statement, she said: ``It is learnt that a provision is to be incorporated in the proposed ordinance that, while the decision of the Central Review Committee will be binding on the Centre, the State concerned and the investigation as well, in cases of conflict between the Central and State Review Committees in respect of the same complaint, the decision of the former would prevail. Such a step would set at naught the very purpose for which the POTA, 2002, was legislated and nullify the efforts taken by progressive State Governments such as Tamil Nadu in putting down terrorist and subversive elements trying to disrupt peace and tranquility.''

Detailing the efforts of her Government in checking terrorist groups such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Tamil National Retrieval Troop and Tamil Nadu Liberation Army, she said the Centre banned these groups under the POTA. ``As a result of these steps and various measures to ensure social justice and speedy development, the State has remained peaceful with terrorist outfits unable to raise their ugly head.''

The State Government set up its own State-level POTA Review Committee.

The ordinance would amount to ``negating and thwarting'' the powers of the State Government in maintaining law and order, she said.

The persons against whom prosecution had been launched under POTA provisions were those against whom a prima facie case had been found. Recently, bail had been refused by the Supreme Court while setting aside the judgment of the Madras High Court in the Nakkeeran Gopal case. ``Is it the intention of the Centre that the Central Review Committee should intervene in such a case and nullify the orders of the Supreme Court?'' Conferring statutory powers on the Central Review Committee to sit in judgment over functioning of special courts constituted under the POTA would amount to interfering with the due process of law.

The Central Review Committee should also not sit in judgment over the action of the State Governments which were duty-bound to maintain law and order, a State subject. ``Such an exercise will make a mockery of the Act itself and lead to a situation where the judicial process itself is questioned by the Executive,'' she said.

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