Defying strong opposition from the Congress, the Madhya Pradesh government on Thursday passed a stringent anti-terror law, arguing it was the need of the hour and that it was not meant against any particular community.
The Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which wanted the legislation to be referred to a select committee, staged a walk-out and tore copies of the bill in the state assembly. The Madhya Pradesh Terrorist and Disruptive Activities and Control of Organised Crimes Bill 2010, with a provision of death penalty, was passed after 61 members voted in favour and 26 against it.
Home Minister Uma Shankar Gupta said that the legislation, similar to the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act 1999, was the need of the hour and not targeted against any minority community, as charged by the Opposition. Gupta said under the new act, consent of the deputy inspector general was mandatory for prosecuting an accused and the charge-sheet will be put up only in the special courts, after being cleared by the inspector general of police.
He said the Act was necessary after the police unearthed terror plots by ultras in the state. As soon as the bill was put to debate by the home minister, Deputy Leader of Congress Legislative Party Choudhary Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi sought a point of order, saying that the state was not empowered to enact such a law to deal with international and national acts of terrorism, as it was the Centre's subject.
After the Speaker Ishwardas Rohani ruled out the point of order, Congress leader Govind Singh of Congress said the bill was anti-people, anti-minority and aimed at political witch-hunting. He wondered why the legislation was being enacted when the state government was claiming that Madhya Pradesh was an 'island of peace' and wooing industrialists.
Singh claimed that the act was aimed to bully the minority community and alleged that it was a 'fascist tactic to suppress the voice of the people'. The ruling party members said that it was necessary to enact the anti-terror law in Madhya Pradesh as terrorism has no boundaries.
After the bill was passed, the opposition tore off the copies of the anti-terror law, and chanted slogans against the government, calling it a 'black day' for Madhya Pradesh, while the Treasury benches shouted 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'.
Earlier, the draft of the Act was sent to the Centre, but it was returned in 2007, saying that its approval was not needed.