Sunday, July 22, 2007

Responding to a comment about the Haneef case

One of our readers who identifies him(?)self as Anonymous/Raj left this in the comments section of a different post:

"Would someone care to comment on the Kafkaesque treatment of the Indian doctor in Australia! It might seem a bit early to comment; but I doubt if anybody would be forced to eat their words for criticizing the Aussie government in using an apparently innocent man to stoke up hysteria and panic before an election.

Personally, I think Indian anti-terror laws are a bit more sophisticated and evolved than those in the US, UK or Australia. It’s been a steep learning curve from the days of TADA and besides we don’t really have the element of cultural barrier in dealing with these things."

I suspect that this case is being closely followed by several of us on this blog, and will eventually be the subject of discussion in the form of a detailed post. I hope some others will also respond to this. For now, I want to express my disagreement with the statement that "Indian anti-terror laws are a bit more sophisticated and evolved than those in the US, UK or Australia."

Let me quote from this article in today's Indian Express by Soli Sorabjee, who as a former law officer of the Centre at the very highest levels must have had first hand experience with several such laws, and can be considered a good authority on the subject:

"Mohd Haneef, a suspected terrorist, was granted consular access to the Indian High Commission in Australia, was allowed to speak to his wife, had the services of a competent Australian lawyer who successfully got him bail which is exceptional in Australia in case of a terrorism-related offence. If an Australian were detained in India on suspicion of terrorist activity it is doubtful whether he would have received these facilities and services. In these circumstances it was inappropriate for our foreign ministry to summon the Australian High Commissioner and lecture him about providing facilities for Haneef under Australian law. As rightly observed by the Australian High Commissioner the issue is not of racism. The problem is of terrorism which has for long afflicted our country."

For a more detailed analysis of just how "sophisticated and evolved" our anti-terror laws are (and have historically been), see the document linked in this post.

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