The Report released by the Administrative Reforms Commission on combating terrorism is here. The report requires a detailed analysis. To begin with, it appears it favours a return of POTA, but is sheepish to admit it. On the question of making confessions to police admissible evidence, it says it favours it, but only after comprehensive police reforms are introduced. On bail provisions and period of detention, I don’t notice any substantial difference between POTA and the report. It favours a federal agency to combat terrorism, and empowering CBI for the purpose through a special law. The state police is expected to provide logistic support to the CBI for investigating terror crimes. Whether it will be an effective substitute to a federal agency is not clear.
The Report is against the state laws on organised crime, and finds MCOCA as insufficient in its definition of the organised crime, safeguards against abuse, and competence to deal with crimes with inter-state ramifications. But the unravelling of the Delhi blasts has shown that even without a proper mechanism to facilitate inter-State exchange of information, Gujarat police and Delhi Police were able to exchange intelligence, and help investigation. An inter-State agency involves massive efforts in resource mobilisation, and is probably against the federal scheme, let alone the time it may take to create it.
But there is a silver lining. ARC has recommended that there should be a ‘Review Committee’ to examine each registered case within 30 days of registration to assess whether a prima facie case has been made out by the investigative agency. This, the report boasts as a significant safeguard.