Minorities Commission seeks review of anti-terror law

Questioning the powers given to the police under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities Wajahat Habibullah on Thursday said that his commission has sought a review of the Act by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Pallavi Polanki November 08, 2013 15:53:50 IST
Minorities Commission seeks review of anti-terror law

New Delhi: Questioning the powers given to the police under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities Wajahat Habibullah on Thursday said that his commission has sought a review of the Act by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

“We ourselves have examined this Act and found that it is an Act which is not legally sound. It gives too much authority to the police and there have been discussions about abdication by the judiciary. But even before the matter comes before the judiciary the case against the accused can be corrupted by the police itself. This widespread misuse of police authority is something that we have noticed in all those cases that have been taken by the National Commission of Minorities,” the chairperson said.

Habibullah was speaking at the release of a report by the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA) titled ‘Guilt by Association: UAPA cases in Madhya Pradesh’.

Minorities Commission seeks review of antiterror law

AFP

“The National Minorities Commission has decided to refer the matter (review of the UAPA) to the NHRC for a discussion. And the NHRC board of directors has put it on their agenda and it will be discussed in their next meeting,” said Habibullah, speaking to reporters.

The move comes at a time when the government is facing heat for turning a blind eye to police excesses in implicating Muslim youth in terror cases despite courts having acquitted them and ordering initiation of criminal cases against guilty police officers. Till date, no criminal proceedings have been initiated against guilty officers even in cases where the judgements have explicitly named erring officers.

Complaints by the Minorities Commission and recent meetings with the Minority Affairs Minister have led belated efforts by the Home Ministry to consider providing compensation and rehabilitation to youth framed in terror cases.

Last month, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde found himself at the centre of a controversy for issuing a directive to state governments not to wrongfully detain Muslim youth. He was accused by the BJP of ‘minority appeasement’.

‘Guilt by Association: UAPA Cases in Madhya Pradesh’ is the third in the series of reports by the JTSA on the systematic implication of youth in terror cases. Their last report ‘Framed, Damned Acquitted – Dossiers of a ‘very’ Special Cell’ documents16 terror cases between 1992 and 2012 in which those arrested , mainly by the Delhi Police Special Cell, were accused of being members of terrorist organisation but were subsequently acquitted of all charges by the courts.

Speaking about the latest report, Manisha Sethi of JTSA said, “Usually when one speaks of framing of Muslim youth in terror cases, we think of Malegaon blastor the Mecca Masjid blast cases. But the story of Madhya Pradesh is untold and undocumented. And we so decided that it was important for us to put out in the public domain what was silently happening here.”

The report documents 75 cases registered under the UAPA in Madhya Pradesh between 2001 and 2012 against former members of SIMI (banned since 2001), their friends and acquaintances.

The report compares FIRs of multiple cases from across the state for their striking similarity in the circumstances under which the youth were arrested, the ‘evidence’ seized from them and also highlights the procedural violations committed in making the arrests.

Present for the release of the report was Binayak Sen, civil rights activist and public health specialist, who, in a controversial judgement by a Chhattisgarh court in 2010,was held guilty of sedition and convicted under the UAPA and the Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act in a case where he was accused of having links with Maoists.

He was granted bail by the Supreme Court in 2011.

Speaking at the event he said, “I would like to emphasise that this is only one example of the kind of targeting and fabrication that has been going on in different parts of the country under various names. Large sections of the Indian judicial apparatus have allowed themselves to become complicit in a coordinated effort to demonise ascribed identities, SIMI in this case before us, Maoists in Chhattisgarh, and in accepting bona fides of patently unacceptable evidence in the fabrication of cases.”

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