PUCL, April 2003

Ttimes of India

PUCL urges Supreme Court to quash Pota


NEW DELHI: The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) on Thursday
sought quashing of the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (Pota)
saying it infringed the fundamental rights.

Arguing before the Supreme Court, PUCL's counsel Rajinder Sachar said
that provision of Pota making statements of accused before police
admissible as evidence runs counter to his basic right under criminal

Referring to the recent cases of misuse of Pota in some states,
Sachar said that the Act did not contain adequate safeguards to honour the fundamental rights of the citizens.

To this, a Bench of Justices S Rajender Babu and G P Mathur, which is
currently hearing a batch of petitions, including that of MDMK leader
Vaiko, challenging the constitutional validity of Pota, said: ``Any
law can be misused.''

Stating that a majority of the states were not implementing Pota,
Sachar said as to what would happen if the Central legislation is not
implemented across India.

The Bench said: ``A state, which repeatedly said that it was not
going to implement the Act, is now invoking the same.''
Admitting that it was the state of Maharashtra, Sachar said security
falls under the purview of public order which is exclusively within
the legislative domain of the states.

As Pota was to deal with security, it should ideally have been
enacted by the the states and Parliament had no legislative
competence to enact the same, he said.

He said that in case of Tada, every state was directed by the apex
court to constitute high-level screening committees to review the
application of Tada in criminal cases. However, Sachar said, no such
screening committee has been constituted in the states to check the
misuse of Pota.

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