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Kasab's Conviction Came Without Anti-Terror Law: Chidambaram

Rejecting BJP's demand for a specific anti-terror law, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday  said conviction of Ajmal Kasab in Mumbai attack case proved that present laws were adequate to deal with the menace. However,
PTI May 06, 2010 20:02 IST

Rejecting BJP's demand for a specific anti-terror law, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday  said conviction of Ajmal Kasab in Mumbai attack case proved that present laws were adequate to deal with the menace.

However, the government is open to "revisit" the laws if necessary.

Replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the functioning of his ministry, Chidambaram said conviction of Kasab, lone surviving terrorist involved in Mumbai attack in 2008, was not on the basis of his confession but evidence.

In this context, he said, the amended Unlawful Activities (Preventions) Act (UAPA) proved adequate for the prosecution and there was no need for separate provisions, as suggested by the BJP.

"For the present, laws are adequate. They have broad support of all sections...Let's try these acts. If necessary, we can always revisit them," he said.

The absence of the provisions in the UAPA, as suggested by the BJP, did not prevent success of Kasab's trial, the Home Minister said.

The main Opposition had wanted provisions like admissibility of confession before a police officer, detention without trial of an accused for 180 days and denial of bail by judge if prosecution opposes it.

Chidamabaram said while he has respect for the views of the BJP, a large sections of the society, particularly minorities and SCs/STs had rejected these ideas as they feared their misuse against them.

Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said though Kasab's conviction was a landmark event, he was disappointed because there were several other accused in the case living in Pakistan and the US from where not much cooperation is forthcoming.

He said BJP had serious reservations whether the present laws were enough to face the terror challenge. After such an enormous crime like the Mumbai attack, "is the Home Minister willing to introspect whether the present legal infrastructure is adequate?"

The Home Minister said the prosecutor has indicated that acquittal of two more accused in the Mumbai blast would be appealed in the higher courts.

 As for Kasab, the award of death sentence has to be confirmed by the High Court and then the case is likely to go to the Supreme Court.

He said the country did not create any Guantanamo Bay (a US detention facility located in Cuba) or military court for Kasab's trial which was done in a normal court. "I am proud of our system," he said.

Giving details about the investigation, Chidambaram said the investigative agencies were able to obtain enormous amount of technical evidence based on the communication records of the terrorists. The data was retrieved even from the damaged mobile phones and "we were able to prove voice samples from our side (but) not from Pakistan."

The terrorists' path from Karachi to Mumabi was reconstructed, he said.

Expressing satisfaction that 2009-10 was largely terror-free excepting the Pune blast, Chidambaram said "with a little more effort we will be able to apprehend the accused" in the German Bakery case.

He said ATS of Maharashtra has cracked the Pune terror attack and "we think we are in the process of apprehending the accused sooner than later."

Chidambaram said Pune was not an intelligence failure and the German Bakery was given the written advisory but it ignored the warnings.  "Sincerely praying" that 2010-11 is a terror-free year, the Home Minister said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is investigating the potential terror modules.

For the last year, "I expected you will fail me in final exams. By and large there is an understanding and appreciation what has been achieved."

He said the NIA is investigating the potential terror modules. They recently cracked one in Hyderabad resulting in arrest of  Zia-ul Haq five days back.

The Home Ministry has invested heavily in crating hardware and software infrastructure. As a result the intelligence gathering machinery is seamlessly connected. "Today intelligence is being shared on a real time basis," he said.

He complimented officers of the Home Ministry who, he said, have accepted the biometric attendance system and are putting in longer duty hours.

He blamed the previous NDA government for not filling large number of vacancies in the Indian Police Service (IPS).

"We have troops but not officers to command," he said. The Centre has now chalked out a plan of recruiting 150 IPS officers every year for next ten years. PTI