Daily Answer Writing
16 June 2021

Q) What do you mean by the term 'terrorism'? What are the legal challenges faced by the prosecution authorities in dealing with the cases of terrorism? (250 words)

Source: <https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/delhi-high-court-calls-out-misuse-of-uapa-raises-bar-for-state-to-slap-terror-tag-7360779/>

GS 3: Internal security

Approach Answer:

Introduction: In India two legislations mainly are used to deal with the issues of terrorism - Unlawful Activities(prevention) Act(UAPA), 1967 and Terrorist & Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985. Apart from these National Security Act, 1980 too is often used in this regard.

 

  • Meaning of Terrorist act as defined in UAPA: – An act of terrorism contains three main element:
  1. Intent: ”whosoever, with intent to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India or to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country,
  2. Means: Does any act by using bombs, dynamite or other explosive substances or inflammable substances or firearms or other lethal weapons or poisons or noxious gases or other chemicals or by any other substances, (whether biological or otherwise) of a hazardous nature,
  3. Result: in such a manner as to cause, or likely to cause,
  4. Death of, or injuries to any person or persons or loss of, or damage to, or
  5. Destruction of  property or disruption of any supplies or services essential to the life of the community in India or in any foreign country or Causes damage or
  6. Destruction of any property or equipment used or intended to be used for the defence of India or in connection with any other purposes of GoI, any State Government or any of their agencies, or
  7. Detains any person and threatens to kill or injure such person in order to compel the Government of India or of any foreign country or any other person to do or abstain from doing any act, commits a terrorist act”.

                            

Often prosecution agencies are unable to apply the right sections and laws when dealing with an act of terrorism. Often the response in certain cases is either exaggerated or sometimes subdued.

 

  • Legal challenges faced by the prosecution authorities in dealing with the cases of terrorism:
  1. Specific intentions not mentioned: None of the existing frameworks speak about intention of these act: 'political, religious or ideological cause'.
  2. Multiple acts: Apart from UAPA, TADA, NSA, certain provisions of Prevention of Money laundering act and sections of code of criminal procedure can also e applied.
  3. No time limit: Given the gravity of the act of terrorism, there should be a fast track approach to such prosecution.
  4. Trivializing Terrorist act by frequent use: Often these acts are used casually against protestors and dissenters. This reduces the gravity of terrorist act and trivializes it.
  5. Does not adequately cover the New means of terrorism: Such as cyber terrorism, biological-terrorism and environmental terrorism.
  6. Multiple agencies: For tracking and investigating finances, narco-crimes, and other terrorist acts.
  7. Confessions before the police are not admissible: Creating difficulties in proving a crime. However, investigative agencies must use better forensic techniques to prove their cases based on such confessions.

             

Conclusion: The 2nd ARC's 8th report on Terrorism has given various recommendations to overcome these challenges such as more specifically defining these acts of terrorisms, providing fast track courts and instituting a special division within CBI to deal with Terrorist acts.

 

Certain improvements however have been pursued by the government in the recent times in this regard, such as National investigation agency Bill, 2019 to deal with investigation and prosecution in terrorist acts swiftly; and Amendments in UAPA to deal with the individual acts of terrorism.

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