Shahid K Abbas in New Delhi
The controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act came in for sharp criticism in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday with opposition party members, barring from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, demanding immediate withdrawal of the 'draconian law'.
The opposition members expressed the fear that the anti-terror law could be 'misused' to carry out a 'political vendetta' against opponents, while the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance suggested that the law 'must not be misused'.
The issue was raised by the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam member C Krishnan, who demanded the immediate release of MDMK chief Vaiko detained under POTA.
He was joined by the Left Front and the Samajwadi Party, who wanted the immediate withdrawal of the law as they felt 'it had the potential of being misused against political opponents and members of the minority community'.
"The law has also failed to serve its real purpose to combat terrorism as is evident from the incidents of Qasim Nagar and Kaluchak," SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said.
Yadav, while citing 'examples' of MISA, DIR and TADA being 'misused' against political opponents, pointed out that his party had from the very beginning cautioned that this law had the 'potential of being grossly misused'.
He said that though the Rajya Sabha rejected it, the government brought it (through a joint voting of both the Houses) with an emphasis that it was to be used against Pakistan-sponsored terrorists.
Yadav demanded the withdrawal of the law contending that the IPC and the CrPC were sufficient to deal with any aspect of terrorism.
He also urged the AIADMK leaders to join him in the demand for the withdrawal of POTA or 'one day it may also be used against their leader'.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Somnath Chatterjee described POTA as a 'law of the jungle'.
He said that in West Bengal the CPI-M government had decided in principle not to implement POTA.
He argued that no civilised society would accept such a law.
However, opposing the charge that the Tamil Nadu government has misused POTA, AIADMK leader in the Lok Sabha, P H Pandian, wondered if the members who had enacted the law could now criticise it.
He said it was not for a Member of Parliament to judge a person being tried for an 'act of crime', adding that only the judiciary was the competent authority to pass a judgment.
He stressed that a 'lawmaker cannot be a lawbreaker', and Vaiko by supporting the banned LTTE organisation has invited action upon himself.
Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said that Vaiko had acted in an 'utter irresponsible manner' by supporting the LTTE, which was a banned organisation and against whose leader, V Prabhakaran, the government has issued an extradition order.
He also argued that it was not the Parliament, but the court, which has to decide whether he had been correctly detained or not.
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