1] Flying terror (GS 3 Security)
- On June 27-28, drones were used to attack an Indian Air Force installation in Jammu, bringing to light a disturbing, but not unexpected, new form of terrorism for the country.
- A least two further efforts to utilise drones to strike military sites were made afterward indicates that terrorism is here to stay.
History of Drone Attacks –
- States’ use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), autonomous weapons systems, and robotic soldiers in conflict and law enforcement has created moral and practical problems that have yet to be answered. Non-state actors have soon caught up.
- Syrian rebels attacked Russian military positions in Syria with homemade drones in 2018, while Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro narrowly escaped death when a drone flying towards him detonated a short distance away.
Role of Technology –
- Technologically enabled new techniques of sabotage and violence minimise the expenses and risk of detection for terrorists while boosting their effectiveness.
- Simultaneously, traditional counter-terrorism tools would be rendered obsolete by security authorities.
- Terrorism may not even necessitate the employment of organisations, as individuals with sufficient drive and abilities can carry out such assaults while remaining undetected, much like the drones they employ.
- The exponential proliferation of new technologies and Artificial Intelligence, vertically and horizontally, will make the task of combating terror even more challenging.
International Framework –
- The existing international frameworks for limiting the proliferation of weaponized technology, such as the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Missile Technology Control Regime, are completely ineffective in the new environment.
- States such as India have attempted to combat terrorism by enacting strict legislation, invasive surveillance, tougher enforcement, and offensives against countries that assist terrorist groups but with limited success.
- The introduction of drones necessitates a more nuanced response to terrorism. Terrorist groups certainly benefit from governmental support, but technology is allowing them to be more autonomous than ever before.
- Terrorism has come a long way since converting passenger planes into missiles in 2001, and no one knows where it will go next.
- To meet the challenge, increased international cooperation and consensus on technology development and deployment are required. India has the ability to and must play an active role in the process.
2] Apt judicial reminder in era of over-criminalisation (GS 2 Governance)
Role of Criminal Justice System –
- The criminal justice system is a state instrument and a fundamental indicator of democracy’s health.
- According to French lawyer Montesquieu, any punishment that is not based on absolute necessity is tyrannical.
- In truth, criminal law should only be utilised as a “last choice” (ultima ratio) and for the “most heinous wrongs.”
- Unfortunately, because “crimes” are the result of government policy, criminal law reflects the concept of “power” rather than “justice.”
- We need to find why activists, students, intellectuals and protesters be charged for the crime of terrorism
Example of misuse
- Between 2015 and 2019, 7,840 people were detained under the harsh UAPA, but only 155 were convicted by trial courts.
- The Supreme Court of India observed in Kartar Singh (1994) that in several cases, the prosecution had unjustifiably applied TADA rules “with the veiled objective of denying the accused persons bail.”
- It went on to say that invoking TADA in this way was “nothing more than the police’s blatant misuse and abuse of the Act.”
- TADA’s experience has been more negative than UAPA’s. UAPA has been utilised and misused in equal measure.
- The definition of the term “terrorism” and when UAPA can be used lawfully are at the heart of the debate.
Ambiguities in the definition –
- Despite the fact that there are over 100 definitions of terrorism available worldwide, there is no common definition of the term “terrorist” in India or internationally.
- The UN General Assembly has tasked a committee with this responsibility, but there has been no unanimity on the definition of terrorism in nearly 50 years.
- Section 15 of UAPA merely defines a terrorist act in extremely wide and vague words: ‘as any act with 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….
Important Judgement –
- The Supreme Court stated in Yaqoob Abdul Razzak Memon (2013) that terrorist crimes can range from threats to actual killings, kidnappings, airline hijacking, car bombs, explosions, shipping of dangerous materials, and the use of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, among other things.
- Justices Anup Jairam Bhambhani and Siddharth Mridul could not be convinced that the three student activists were involved in any terrorist attack because they did not do any of these things.
- Justice Bhambani reminded the Delhi police of the true definition of a terrorist act with an authoritative and intelligent bail order based purely on top court judgments.
- Justice Bhambhani based his conclusion on A.K. Roy (1982), a case in which the constitutionality of the National Security Act (NSA) was challenged. To ensure that a person who is not within the parliamentary intent is not caught up in a penal provision, the penal provision must be construed more strictly.
- The Supreme Court had previously stated that when construing preventative detention legislation like the NSA, care must be made to limit their application to the fewest conceivable circumstances.
- The Supreme Court had previously declared in Sanjay Dutt (1994) that people who the law did not intend to penalise should not be dragged into it by straining the punitive provisions.
- As a result, the Delhi High Court determined that because the definition of a “terrorist act” under UAPA is broad and ambiguous, it cannot be applied arbitrarily to ordinary crimes, and the accused’s act must reflect the core nature of terrorism.
- The CAA protests were not, in fact, terrorist attacks. It may be tough to define terrorism, but does everyone know when an act of terror has been committed?
Way Forward –
- In any event, no anti-terror law, no matter how strict, can truly solve the terrorism problem. Terrorists’ tried and true method is to push a civilised state into state terrorism. Let us not get caught in their web.
- Only individuals who have been subjected to real or perceived injustices tend to become radicalised. To battle terrorism, let us eliminate injustice.
- Combating terrorism would be significantly more effective if a truly equitable, egalitarian, and non-oppressive society were established.
Expected Questions –
- “In India criminal law reflects the concept of “power” rather than “justice.” In context of use of sedition laws and national security laws, analyse above statement. (GS 2)
- A recent terrorist attack in Jammu with drones has highlighted new threat. Suggest the possible challenges and measures to tackle the threat.