The article 'The Position of Anti-Terror Laws in India' is a well-researched study about terrorism and anti-terrorism laws in India, along with a few effective suggestions.

The article 'The Position of Anti-Terror Laws in India' is a well-researched study about terrorism and anti-terrorism laws in India, along with a few effective suggestions.

Introduction To Terrorism

The word ‘terrorism’ originated from the Latin verb ‘terrere’, which means ‘to cause to tremble.’ According to the Cambridge Dictionary, ‘terror’ means ‘extreme fear or violent action that causes fear.’ Terrorism has till now no definition which is accepted worldwide as the act which is considered terrorism for one can be regarded as a patriotic act for the other.

Terrorism is like a disease to the whole world, slowly destroying the peace and security of the world for its own propaganda of spreading the feeling of intimidation among the general public. Terrorism has adopted the sole purpose of making the general public feel fear at large, as expressed by a Chinese philosopher “kill one, frighten 10,000”. Terrorism is not new to society, and people have seen various attacks at large, out of which two are considered the most brutal attacks in the history of the world:

  • 9/11 attacks of 2001, which destroyed the World Trade Center in New York, and,
  • the 26/11 attack of 2008 in Mumbai in which a group of terrorists associated with LeT killed more than 160 innocent people.

The terrorists consistently denote their group with various substitutes such as rebel, jihaadi, mujaheddin, taliban, militant, revolutionary, naxali, and many others. They use these words to represent their ethical or ideological sacrifices and struggles.

The entire world has been targeted by such terrorist groups and has borne several violent attacks and bloodshed activities. Terrorism is spreading its scope to not only violence and killing of the innocent public but also to the cyber sector of the world, which the term cyber-terrorism has addressed. In the modern era, terror has also become advanced as there have been many developed technological weapons known as ‘Weapons of mass destruction.’

The presence of such modern-day advancements in the weapon sector has enlarged the fear of bloodshed and violence. Terrorists can’t be formed in an ordinary environment, and there are a number of factors that play a leading role in making a terrorist, there can be extreme religious infatuation, political influences, misguided sense of adventure, foreign financial assistance, revenge, unemployment, etc.

Terrorism in India

India, for a long time, has been a victim of the global disease named ‘terrorism’, for a long time, the Indian government has been trying its best to maintain the law and order condition in the country, but still, terrorist activities are not a halt. The Jammu and Kashmir border region and some of the northeast regions have experienced a long tenure of violence and are marked as the red zone of India. Terrorism has gravely harmed the integrity and has made the country’s security conditions sensitive. There has been a series of bomb blasts in the country which have left a brutal impact on the population which wants their life to be at peace.

The Bombay blasts of 1993, which witnessed the deaths of more than 200 people, the Delhi blasts of 2005 resulted in the death of 62 people, the Mumbai blasts of 2006 in which 209 people lost their lives, the Hyderabad blasts of 2007 in which 14 people were reported dead and the most brutal of all times the 2008 blasts in Mumbai which gave a non-bearable shock to the country, the attack also denoted as 26/11 attacks which resulted in the death of 166 people and were led by the jihadis which were trained by Pakistan. India has experienced decades of brutal violence, loss of innocent lives, and grave damage to the nation’s integrity. To control this scenario, the Indian legislature has been working desperately developing its legislation to cease this bloodshed and violence.

Anti-Terrorism Legislation in India

At the inception of such terrorist activities in Punjab, where there were riots and brutal killings of innocent people for the formation of Khalistan, the authorities of India thought to cope with them by the ordinary penal laws but, with the passing of time, it was better understood by the Government that ordinary laws will solely not sufficient to deal with them and then comes the special laws of the land into action. The purpose of enacting such special laws was to cease the exacerbation of the country’s internal security. The ordinary laws include:

● Constitutional provisions dealing with emergency conditions,

● Constitutional provisions which sanction preventive detention in the non-emergency period, and

● Substantive laws like the Indian penal code penalise such activities.

India has been dealing with such activities for more than two decades and has seen a lot of improvement through enacting these special and stringent laws. These laws come with various special investigation processes and require much reliable evidence like prima facie evidence. The more these laws are stringent, the more the obligation to protect the innocent becomes important. During the brutal era of India, many legislations have been enacted and repealed because of the misuse of them by the general public, as our law has its basic reliance on the “Presumption of Innocence.” The major laws which had been repealed for the interests of the public at large are:

➢ The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985 and 1987

This legislation was the first terror-specific law that was enacted as the law of the land by the Indian government after independence. This act was enacted as the response to the assassination of the first lady prime minister of India, “INDIRA GANDHI,” by Sikh extremists in 1984. The terrorist activities were at the peak of their era when even the country’s prime minister was not safe. The preamble of this act specifies the purpose of the act, which was “for the prevention of and for coping with, terrorist and disruptive activities and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.” This act was the need of the hour when there was an alarming increase in terrorist and disruptive activities.

The TADA act, 1985 was initially enacted for two years, thus, it expired in 1987, and thus, another act with the same title was enacted in 1987. The then central government thought that this act not only is enacted again but also needed to be more stringent. The misuse and widespread abuse of the act started after a certain period of time, and thus, in 1995, the act was repealed by the authorities. The misuse can be seen in a much more clarified way by looking at the statistics, which represent out of 75,000 cases of the TADA act, around 73,000 cases were withdrawn due to the lack of evidence. This act was criticised for its gross violation of human rights.

➢ The Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002

After the repeal of the TADA act, there was no terrorism-specified law in India, which thus made the nation to be considered a soft state. In this gap of 7 years, many terrorist activities took place, out of which the hijack of the Indian airlines to Kandhar and the attack on the parliament was the most high-profile attacks, after looking at these activities the home ministry of the nation requested the law commission to examine the need of new anti-terror legislation, thus in 2000 the law commission came with the 173rd law commission report which recommended the introduction of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill with the same purpose of safeguarding the integrity and peace of the country but this time the preventive measures for the misuse of the act were included within the act. This Act came into existence

In 2002, and before the enactment, this act was vehemently opposed because it carried many provisions which were present in the TADA act, and thus, it was not supported by the majority, but when the 9/11 attack in New York occurred, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 came into purview and mandated the world to communities to prepare strong and effective anti-terror legislation, a large number of countries including USA, UK, Canada, Australia enacted their anti-terrorism laws to prevent their internal peace and security. Thus the political scenario of India got seriously affected by the sudden international shock, thus the need for a terror-specified law was enhanced, so, the legislature passed this act after being enacted as an ordinance. The new UPA government repealed the act in 2004 when it came into power.

The chief legislations which are now existing in our society to prevent such brutal phases in the country are:

❖ The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967

The UAPA, 1967 initially was not meant to be stringent terror-specific legislation, but with the constant instability in the legislative affairs of the country after the repeal of the TADA act in 1995 and POTA in 2004, the UAPA arose as the country’s main anti-terror legislation. Initially, the purpose of UAPA was to deal with the unlawful activities of individuals and groups and empower the parliament to impose reasonable restrictions on specific rights of citizens in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India. After the lapse of the POTA in 2004 because of its draconian nature, UAPA was amended in such a way that it could deal with the scourge of terrorism. This act was the need of the hour as the frequency of the terror strikes, and bomb blasts were increasing with time.

Due to the instability in the legislative functions, India was considered inadequate to counter terrorist activities. The legislative stringency of the act was enhanced by adding many new sections that directly tackle terrorism. After the amendment of 2004, the act was again amended in the year 2008 and was more about procedural modifications. It empowered the National Investigation Agency act, 2008. This amendment act of 2008 also amended the definition of ‘terrorist act’ given in the amendment of 2004 and thus defined ‘terrorist act’ as “persons who does any act with the intent to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security or sovereignty of India or with intent to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or any foreign country shall be a terrorist act.”

❖ The Terrorist Affected Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1984

In India, this legislation was the first to define the term “terrorist.” This act was considered important legislation because its purpose was to provide speedy trial to the accused of certain terrorism-related offences. This purpose was very beneficial to the public at large. Under this act, special courts were made to deal with such terrorism-related offences. This act also designated many regions as “terrorist affected” for a temporary period. After a certain time period when the authorities felt that this act was insufficient to deal with the menace of terrorism, then they thought of the enactment of comprehensive anti-terror legislation to deal with the peril of terrorism in its entirety.

❖ The National Investigation Agency Act, 2008

When almost all big cities of India had to bear the brunt of terror, then there arose a need for a specialised security law that forms an agency that can investigate a matter related to serious offences like terrorism all over the country and also with a sanction to investigate in every state, if needed. Police being a state authority, was able to act in a limited territorial jurisdiction but unable to act in a wholesome and collective manner.

The 26/11 attacks were considered the root cause for the formation of a central agency named the National Investigation Agency under the NIA act, 2008. This was the first time when the idea of setting up an investigation agency was envisaged. Its main purpose was to establish a center-state partnership in investigating terrorist cases. This act not only has the function of investigation but also lays down provisions that relate to the prosecution and trial of scheduled offences.


On observing and taking into account the regularity and enormity of the terrorist activities, there is a dire need for a much clarified, holistic, and compatible legal framework that better works on the domestic counter-terrorism strategy and will help find the root cause of the act of terrorism. The law must contain provisions for screening the suspicious transfer of money so the funding to terrorists can be curbed.

The media of India should work responsibly for the country and not for their TRP and political parties. The media is considered the fourth pillar of democracy and thus, plays a vital role in the condition of a country. Modern technology must be used for vigilance and surveillance to create a strong security system.

Political biases must not interfere with the betterment of the country, thus, unity of each political party is needed when the nation needs it. It is majorly believed that terrorism is religion-based, but practically, “Terrorism has no religion” and religion must be segregated from such menace. There should be national campaigns at regular periods for the eradication of terrorism from society, thus, the human rights of the general public can be protected, and they can be empowered.


India has been facing terrorism since the time of its independence. When this issue became terrifying and started to intimidate the general public of India, then the government felt that ordinary laws would not suffice to deal with terrorism. There was a requirement for extraordinary laws for the purpose to prevent the country from internal havoc that can destroy the peace and security of the nation.

Thus, the Indian government came with the needful step by enacting the TADA act of 1985, but as time moves on, the terrorist activities doesn’t tend to halt, creating legislative instability in the country. After two decades of brutal bloodshed of innocent people, the country’s condition improved comparatively. Still, terrorism is such an issue in the contemporary world it can create frightful conditions all over the world within just a little time period. Still, the small terrorist activities have not ceased, and thus, the government needs to be in action till the danger is entirely terminated.


[1] The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985

[2] The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987

[2] The Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002

[3] Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967

[4] The Terrorist Affected Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1984

[5] The National Investigation Agency Act, 2008

Important Links

Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary, and Entrance Exams

Law Aspirants: Ultimate Test Prep Destination

Mayank Saraswat

Mayank Saraswat

Next Story