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Lok Sabha passes NIA bill, CMs to meet Jan 6

December 17, 2008 20:40 IST
Last Updated: December 17, 2008 21:34 IST

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the National Investigative Agency bill.

An independent body of judicial experts to be set up to review cases to be tried under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Home Minister P Chidambaram said.

Chidambaram also said that he has convened a meeting of chief ministers on January 6 to discuss terrorism.

Observing that the country was facing "jihadi terrorism" wherein terrorists are not deterred as they come here to die and kill, the Home Minister acknowledged that the new laws or even the Prevention Of Terrorism [Images] Act or Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act were not a "deterrent" but "punitive" in nature.

Chidambaram said the new laws were aimed at giving sufficient powers to the police forces to ensure that they can investigate and secure convictions. Underlining that the enactment of the new laws should not be seen from the "communal prism", Chidambaram said "all laws are secular, except the personal laws. Criminal laws do not recognise communities but only those who perpetrate crimes."

He said the new laws will be "applied uniformly without any discrimination. We are not concerned about caste or creed of a terrorist, if he is a terrorist. They will be prosecuted and punished." To ensure that there is "no misuse", he said an independent authority of judicial experts would be set up to review such cases even before prosecution is launched. "This is an important safeguard. It is for the first time that such a measure has been introduced in a criminal law so that it is not misused," he said.

"What we have done is that we have tried to balance the requirement of law, the requirement of investigations and fair trial and human rights," Chidambaram said. While the NIA Bill was passed by a voice vote, efforts were made by some Left members to introduce some amendments in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which were rejected.

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