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Shinde’s proposal to review terrorism cases unconstitutional: BJP

Recently, Shinde through an official communiqué to all the chief ministers said that they should be careful while arresting minorities and gave a proposal to review terrorism cases against them.

Jaitley said, ‘The framers of our laws while still permitting separate personal laws dealing with civil rights did not make any exception with regard to criminal law. A crime is a crime irrespective of the birth marks of the criminal. His religious beliefs cannot determine his guilt or innocence.’

He said that this will 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 and it seems that he (Shinde) has only religious minority and not linguistic minority in his mind. I expect 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,’ the leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha said.

While reminding the Article 14 of the Constitution, which empowers every citizen right to equality, Jaitley alleged that the move against 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.

Going into the details of Shinde’s proposal, the BJP leader said, ‘The believers of Hindu faith would constitute a minority in Jammu and 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?’

On the context of Maoists relating to the proposal, he questioned, ‘What would happen to cases against the Maoists where some of the co-accused belong to one religion and others belong to a different community.

Describing the move as irrational,  Jaitley reminds that the power to withdraw a prosecution is circumscribed by Section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code and it is only a public prosecutor who has the power to move the court seeking withdrawal of a case.

‘The judge has to apply his mind to allow the withdrawal of a case. Criminal law does not provide for any review Committee for withdrawal of pending cases where charge sheets have been filed.

Whenever law makers have felt the need, they have specifically provided for such a review committee. The states are not bound by such unconstitutional directives of the Home Minister,’ he said.
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