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Chidambaram denies 'dilution' of anti-terror laws

A Delhi correspondent | December 18, 2008 16:22 IST

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Home Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday set at rest media speculation that the strong anti-terror laws he stipulated were diluted in the Cabinet by some of the ministers to ensure they do not impact their prospects in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

Chadiambaram was responding in the Rajya Sabha to charges levelled by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley who, quoting media reports, said that even though the home minister contemplated much more sterner laws, his efforts were shot down by other colleagues in the Cabinet when clearing them for presentation in Parliament.

Chidambaram intervened to point out that 'unfortunately' the newspaper reports were wrong and he can disclose that the Cabinet cleared the Bills ditto as proposed by him, without a single change.

Jaitley also brought in the controversial remark of Minority Affairs Minister A R Antulay doubting if Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare [Images] was killed by terrorists who stormed Mumbai and caused havoc for three days.

Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal intervened to point out that Antulay had already denied the remark.

CISF cover to private bodies
Chidambaram also introduced third of the Bills cleared by the Cabinet on Monday as part of the determined war against terrorism. This Bill seeks to amend the Central Industrial Security Force Act, to extend the role of the central force, primarily raised to protect the government establishment, to provide its security cover to the private institutions and establishments.

The November 26 attack on the two private hotels prompted the government to extend the services of the CISF that already provides security to Indian airports, nuclear establishments and public utilities and companies to other private establishments like the big oil refineries set up by the private sector on the shores of the ocean that are quite
vulnerable to the terror attacks.

Chidambaram also set off the day-long discussion on the two other Bills passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday to create the National Investigation Agency and amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, pleading to 'show unity of purpose and unity of
action' by passing them unanimously as done by the lower House.

Admitting that members and parties would have reservations on the two Bills the government has brought, he wanted them to spell them out but not press for any changes at the moment to let these laws be tried out for the next two months. Provisions of these laws can be re-visited by Parliament in February to plug any loopholes found in implementation, he said.

Balancing Act
Chidambaram said he had tried to balance two apparently conflicting interests; one calling for strong laws that help police and prosecution to secure convictions and another concerned about the human rights.

He assured the House that the laws have the sternest clauses but the same have been padded with the safeguards to protect the fundamental rights and ensure that no personal liberty is taken away except by fair and legal procedure.

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