ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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More Power to Abuse

The Maharashtra government's proposed law will only increase arbitrariness.

British rule ended in India 69 years ago, yet the philosophy that dictated the enactment of laws by the colonial rulers continues to inform the lawmakers of an independent India. Despite documented proof that more stringent laws cannot by themselves insulate a country against terrorist attacks or enhance internal security, our lawmakers remain wedded to the belief that the state can deal with these problems if it is not limited by judicial curbs on executive power. Thus, the Government of Maharashtra plans to enact the Maharashtra Protection of Internal Security Act (MPISA), 2016 because it holds that the existing Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), 1999, as well as the draconian provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967, amended twice in 2008 and 2012 and the National Security Act (NSA), 1980 are insufficient to deal with terrorism, insurgency, communalism and caste violence that the state faces. Not surprisingly, civil society groups are apprehensive of the ­record of the use and misuse of similar laws in the past.

The Maharashtra government justifies the MPISA saying that it needs powers to protect the state’s vulnerable coastline and its “critical infrastructure sector.” This includes dams, nuclear reactors, transportation systems, defence and government establishments, etc. The government will designate special security zones where the movement of funds as well as arms and explosives will be monitored and where any assembly of more than 100 people will require prior police permission. Any police officer can “use such force as may be necessary, in order to stop the commission of any offence under this act, within his view.” And citizens wrongly charged under this law cannot sue the state or demand compensation because the state is protected from all such actions.

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