Federal agency, tough laws needed to fight terror: panel (Lead)

September 16th, 2008 - 7:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) A reforms panel Tuesday recommended the establishment of a federal agency to investigate terrorist acts, as also the enactment of stringent laws to deal with the scourge.”Tough anti-terror laws are required. We are of the view that a federal agency is required to investigate terrorist offences,” Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) chairperson M. Veerappa Moily told reporters while releasing its eighth report titled Combating Terrorism here.

Among the other measures the commission has recommended are strengthening anti-money-laundering laws to block the flow of funds for financing terrorist activities, the creation of fast track courts to exclusively deal with terrorist-related cases and a multi-pronged strategy to deal with “the menace of terrorism”.

This apart, the commission also said that no person accused of an offence punishable under the National Security Act (NSA) should be released on bail.

“A comprehensive and effective legal framework to deal with all aspects of terrorism needs to be enacted,” the commission said in its report.

“The law should have adequate safeguards to prevent its misuse. The legal provisions to deal with terrorism could be incorporated in a separate chapter in the National Security Act, 1980,” it added.

Asked what form the new legislation should take, Moily replied cryptically: “What was not there in POTA, we are providing it here. It is not POTA, not TADA, not MCOCA - it is a stand alone.”

The United Progressive Alliance government, soon after it came to power, had repealed the Prevention Of Terrorism Act (POTA) that had been enacted by the previous National Democratic Alliance government.

POTA, in turn, had replaced the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA). MCOCA is the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act that many consider to be more draconian than TADA.

Under the title “A Federal Agency to Investigate Terrorist Offences”, the commission reiterated the recommendations made in its report on “Public Order” on creating a specialised division in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate terror offences.

“It should be ensured that this division of the CBI is staffed by personnel of proven integrity and who are professionally competent and have developed the required expertise in investigation of terrorism related offences,” the commission said.

“The autonomy and independence of this agency may be ensured through a laid down procedure of appointment and assured fixed tenure for its personnel,” the report added.

Apart from recommending amendments in the money-laundering laws “to widen their scope and outreach”, the commission also suggested strengthening the coordination mechanisms between the Directorate of Enforcement and other intelligence gathering and investigative agencies.

“The financial transaction reporting regime under the Financial Intelligence Unit may be extended to cover high risk sectors such as real estate,” the commission said.

This apart, it said the new legal framework on terrorism “may incorporate provisions regarding freezing of assets, funds, bank accounts, deposits and cash when there is reasonable suspicion of their intended use in terrorist activities”.

The commission also noted that the potential of the media in spreading education and awareness “needs to be tapped to build the capacity of citizens in dealing with any public disorder, particularly terrorism violence”.

“Media should be encouraged to evolve a self regulating code of conduct to ensure that publicity arising out of terrorist attacks does not help the terrorists in their anti-national designs,” the commission said.

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