NATIONAL

Opposition alleges misuse of POTA

New Delhi April 9. Even as the Opposition members in the Rajya Sabha today levelled allegations of misuse of POTA, the Centre said it will not interfere in the functioning of the Review Committee set up to review such charges. The Committee will look into the cases of misuse referred to it or even taken up `suo motu', the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, informed the Rajya Sabha.

Replying to supplementaries, Mr. Advani refused to be drawn into a discussion on whether the setting up of the Committee was an admission on the part of the Government that the allegations of misuse were correct. The question was raised by Alka Balram Kshatriya (Cong.) who sought to know whether setting up of a committee meant that the Government agree that there was misuse of POTA. Mr. Advani said the Committee was constituted taking cognisance of the allegations made on the floor of the House.

Independent member, Shabana Azmi sought to know whether many people in Gujarat were booked for the Godhra carnage but no one arrested for the bloodshed that followed. While several members were on their feet, the Leader of the Opposition, Manmohan Singh, questioned the reason for a change in the Government affadavit in the Supreme Court on the issue of arrest of the MDMK leader, Vaiko, under POTA. He said the reply to Ms. Azmi's query was ``not satisfactory''.

Mr. Advani said the Committee was expected to take a comprehensive view of the use of the Act in all States, complaints, grievances and any cases referred to it for review. It would also suggest measures to ensure that provisions of the Act were invoked for combating terrorism only and not other crimes. ``You should not expect me to usurp the authority of the Review Committee,'' he said.

In reply to another query, Mr. Advani said the Centre had not referred any case to the Committee.