The terrorist attack on Mumbai on 26/11 sent a shock wave across the country. India has been fighting insurgents in Kashmir, including Islamic radicals from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Since 2001, terrorists in Kashmir have killed thousands of civilians, policemen, and Indian soldiers, and violence rages on. Add to these concerns the continued separatist violence in India’s northeast, the potential threat of the Tamil Tigers in the south, and the existence of an organized, international crime network distributing weapons and explosives to all of the them; it is very logical for the debate on tougher anti-terrorist law to resurface. India’s Union Cabinet issued the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) in October 2001.7 The central government claimed its action was a response to “an upsurge of terrorist activities, intensification of cross border terrorism, and insurgent groups in different parts of the country.” The ordinance granted state law enforcement sweeping powers to investigate, detain, and prosecute for a wide range of terrorist-related offenses. Most notably, POTO targeted those who allegedly incited, supported, abetted, harbored, concealed, or benefited from the proceeds of terrorism. Talking a little more about the act, POTA defined terrorism as any violence “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.” Moreover, the law imposed a minimum five-year sentence on “whoever conspires or attempts to commit, or advocates, abets, advises or incites or knowingly facilitates the commission of, a terrorist act or any act preparatory to a terrorist act. Lets talk about the provisions of POTA.
POTA allowed police to detain a suspect for up to 180 days without a formal charge, far exceeding the limit under ordinary Indian criminal law. The POTA court could postpone bail petitions for a year. Furthermore, if the prosecutor opposed bail, the court...