Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, India passed its own anti-terrorism ordinance, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), following a terrorist attack on India’s Parliament building in December 2001. As with the USA PATRIOT Act, Indian legislators acted quickly, declaring the Act to be a necessary weapon against terrorism. But POTA, like the USA PATRIOT Act, had detractors, who criticized the law as unnecessary and draconian. Among other potentially dangerous measures, POTA allowed for 180-day detentions without charge, presumptions of guilt, sketchy review procedures, summary trials and trials in absentia. In many ways, POTA was harsher than the USA PATRIOT Act, but then again, so is India’s terrorist threat. In September 2004, a new central government repealed POTA, but other vigorous antiterror laws are likely to follow. This Note evaluates the most dangerous provisions of POTA, how officials abused those provisions, and what lessons India and the United States can learn from the experience.
POTA: Lessons Learned From India’s Anti-Terror Act,
B.C. Third World L.J.