Home Ministry directive violative of criminal law: A. Jaitley
The BJP has criticised the Union Home Ministry’s directive to all Chief Ministers to review terrorism cases against members of the minority communities, claiming it is in violation of the fundamental principles and provisions of criminal law.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, in a statement issued on Saturday, said the directive by the Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is based on an improper policy. “It violates the constitutional guarantee of equality. The States are not bound by such unconstitutional directives of the Home Minister,” he said.
Referring to the Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of the Constitution, Mr. Jaitley said: “Article 44 of the Constitution states ‘The state shall endeavour to ensure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India’. Uniform Civil Code can only deal with rights of the citizens and not religious rituals.”
The senior BJP leader said that Mr. Shinde’s decision refers to only religious minorities and not linguistic minorities. “He expects the State Government to set up review committees to deal with cases against a category of citizens and not all persons who have been charged for terrorism offences. This raises certain fundamental questions with regard to the propriety and the legality of the move initiated by the Home Minister. The move is clearly political.”
Mr. Jaitley said in the last few years there are a few members of the majority community also who were charged in a set of cases of terrorism. “Maoists have been charged in terror offences in several parts of the country. The provisions of the anti-terror laws have been invoked against some persons in the North-East and Jammu & Kashmir. There are pre-2004 cases pending under POTA. Subsequent cases are predominantly under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. A move that only a certain category of cases would be reviewed on the eve of election is intended to link the otherwise uniform application of criminal law with vote bank politics,” he alleged.
Calling the directive “unconstitutional”, he said Article 14 guarantees to every citizen a right to equality. “The criteria that the facility of reviewing terror cases would be extended to persons depending on which faith they believe in or are born into is clearly unconstitutional. A crime does not cease to be a crime because a criminal practices in a particular faith.”
Raising questions on who would qualify as a minority, the BJP leader said: “A contradiction would also be there. The believers of Hindu faith would constitute a minority in Jammu & Kashmir and certain States of North-East. Would they be eligible for review in these States or would the majority in these States be treated as national minority and be eligible for review of cases? What would happen to cases (say against the Maoists) where some of the co-accused belong to one religion and others belong to a different community.”