Laws against terrorism

India’s central laws against terrorism have evolved over the years through the enactment of the following acts-


The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987, was at one time the main law used in cases of terrorism and organised crime, but due to rampant misuse, it was allowed to lapse in 1995. The Act defined a “terrorist act” and “disruptive activities”, put restrictions on the grant of bail, and gave enhanced power to detain suspects and attach properties. The law made a confession before a police officer admissible as evidence. Separate courts were set up to hear cases filed under TADA.


In wake of the 1999 IC-814 hijack and 2001 Parliament attack, there was a clamour for a more stringent anti-terror law, which came in the form of The Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), 2002. A suspect could be detained for up to 180 days by a special court. The law made fund raising for the purpose of terrorism a “terrorist act”. A separate chapter to deal with terrorist organisations was included. The Union government could add or remove any organisation from the schedule. However, reports of gross misuse of the Act by some state governments led to its repeal in 2004.


In 2004, the government chose to strengthen The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. It was amended to overcome some of the difficulties in its enforcement and to update it in accordance with international commitments. By inserting specific chapters, the amendment criminalised the raising of funds for a terrorist act, holding of the proceeds of terrorism, membership of a terrorist organisation, support to a terrorist organisation, and the raising of funds for a terrorist organisation. It increased the time available to law-enforcement agencies to file a chargesheet to six months from three.

The law was amended in 2008 after the Mumbai attacks, and again in 2012. The definition of “terrorist act” was expanded to include offences that threaten economic security, counterfeiting Indian currency, and procurement of weapons, etc. Additional powers were granted to courts to provide for attachment or forfeiture of property equivalent to the value of the counterfeit Indian currency, or the proceeds of terrorism involved in the offence.