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Home > News > PTI

SC upholds constitutional validity of POTA

December 17, 2003 15:56 IST

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the constitutional validity of the controversial legislation - Prevention of Terrorism Act while dismissed writ petitions challenging the same.

Petitioners - People's Union for Civil Liberties, NGO on Human Rights, MDMK leader Vaiko, Tamil activist P Nedumaran and a Tamil publisher - had assailed the legislation on the ground that it interfered with the fundamental rights of people specially on freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.

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A bench comprising Justice S Rajendra Babu and Justice G P Mathur upheld the validity of section 14 of POTA, which made it mandatory for every person to divulge knowledge about terrorist activities to the police immediately.

Rejecting Vaiko's argument that it would compromise the professional ethics of journalists and lawyers, the bench said there is no such sacrosanct right to withhold information about terrorist activities aimed against the nation.

However, the bench accepted Attorney General Soli Sorabji's argument that moral support per se to a terrorist organisation could not be construed as an offence under POTA. The bench said the intention to commit criminal acts has to be proved.

The bench also accepted Attorney General's submission that normal bail provisions would be applicable in a POTA case if the detention exceeded one year.

It did not go into the merits to Vaiko's petition regarding the question as to the validity of his detention under POTA. The bench, which gave certain clarifications on Section 21(3) of POTA, said that the trial court would decide on the matter.

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