Karnataka terror laws: Death penalty added

Bangalore: The BJP government has been riding on terror as its election plank and now it’s tightened the screws on terror suspects, a year after the serial blasts in Bangalore. The state legislature on Wednesday approved a slew of amendments to the Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act (KCOCA), after the Congress warning the ruling party against misuse. The amendments allow for death sentence for terror too.

“We have defined what is terrorist activity and the punishment can be up to capital punishment or life imprisonment . It was not there in the original act,” says state home minister V S Acharya.

The big question is whether these terror laws will get a final ratification – because the GUJCOC that was mooted by another BJP government – the Gujarat government – has been sent back three times by the President.

But Karnataka home department officials say theirs is not a fresh act but only amendments that they hope to get approved soon.

With the new amendments, the KCOCA is a stronger tool than the GUJCOCA and MCOCA. Here’s how:

Those accused can be kept in custody for six months under the Maharashtra state organised law and the proposed Gujarat organised crime bill, while the Karnataka version empowers them to be held in custody for a year before chargesheets are filed.

The Karnataka version levies a fine of Rs 10 lakh for acts of terrorism; as against Gujarat and Maharashtra’s Rs 5 lakh.

All three state laws allow for the death penalty for convicted terrorists. In all three Acts, property of the accused can be attached

The amendments will be sent to the President for approval in a few days, as the State act includes some changes sought in the CrPC too – primarily that an authorised officer can tap into any wireless communication.

Deepa Balakrishnan / CNN-IBN, Jul 31, 2009


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