ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Terrorist Act

The Terrorist Act A G Noorani THE Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985 is a wholly unnecessary and menacing piece of legislation and is a precursor to a perhaps even worse legislation. For, on May 18, Union Home Minister S B Chavan said that a new bill on sedition was in the offing. It will be a grave threat to the freedom of the press and, indeed, to the freedom of speech generally. One hopes the opposition will be more vigilant then than it was on the Terrorist Act. The Supreme Court sustained the existing law of sedition embodied in section 124A of the Penal Code only by giving it a restricted meaning. Nothing has happened to suggest that sedition has so grown as to reveal the law to be inadequate. On the contrary, the existing laws against secessionism embodied in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 itself has demonstrated the limitations of a legislative approach. Secessionism was contained in Jammu and Kashmir by the Indira Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah accord of February 1975 not by the ban on the Plebiscite Front on the eve of the 1971 general election. The law itself is quite adequate. Only it cannot be a substitute for statesmanship. It can be used very effectively to tackle secessionism even as it stands today should a political approach fail.

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