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Need to change Act as terror groups may use minors: Nikam

Need to change Act as terror groups may use minors: Nikam

Author: PTI
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 10, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/175170/Need-to-change-Act-as-terror-groups-may-use-minors-Nikam.html

The trial of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist caught in the November 26 attacks, has thrown up the possibility of minors being used for terror attacks and time has come for the country to strengthen the Juvenile Justice Act to deal with such impending menace, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam has said.

After Kasab unsuccessfully attempted to plead that he was a juvenile, a possibility arises that terror groups might use minors to carry out suicide attacks, he warned.

"Juvenile offenders are likely to infiltrate into the country... Time has come to change the archiac Juvenile Justice Act to ensure that terror suspect below the age of 18 should be tried under the stringent laws, Nikam said in an interactive session with PTI journalists in Mumbai.

Recently, the Act was amended to increase the age of juvenile from 16 to 18 years. Even that would not suffice for a juvenile terrorist as there was no provision under the Act to award rigorous imprisonment like death penalty, Nikam said.

A juvenile convict cannot be tried in a regular court but only before a juvenile authority which does not award punishment even if guilt is proved, said Nikam.

Nikam said similar to Kasab, who had attempted to prove himself to be a juvenile to escape punishment taking advantage of the lenient Act, "Many young people are being brainwashed and used by terror groups and our existing laws are inadequate," Nikam said.

Nikam justified the need for examining FBI officials in Kasab trial saying it would help them provide the evidence in regard to phone calls made to Karachi during the attacks.

The public prosecutor also favoured setting up of special courts to try terror cases just as was done in the case of 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts for speedy disposal.

"There is a requirement that an anti-terror court should handle only one case. As of now, the condition is such that most anti-terror courts are handling multiple cases which delays the judgement", Nikam said.

Nikam, however, opposed holding summary trials saying that trials should be held in a transparent manner giving a fair opportunity to an accused to defend himself.

Kasab, a resident of Faridkot in Pakistan, and two other alleged Indian Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives are facing trial for their alleged involvement in Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 persons and injured 234.

Nikam said police had accumulated sufficient evidence against all the three accused. "In the case of Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, there were no confessions and we will be relying purely on evidence obtained to prove their guilt".

Sharing his thoughts on the behaviour of Kasab during the trial, which began on Friday, Nikam said he is not only been trained in terror warfare but also given training to escape the clutches of law by "dishonest" means.

"Kasab said his age was 21 years to the Jailor and doctor who examined him after his arrest but in the court he pleaded he was 17," he added.

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