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Report No. 262

(iv) Death penalty and anti-terror laws

2.5.8 Many laws under which the death penalty continues to be imposed have to do with terrorist offences. For example, death sentences under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act, 1987 ('TADA'), Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 ('POTA'), and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 ('UAPA'), continue to be imposed and upheld. For one thing, these death sentences are implemented even when the underlying law in some of these cases has either been repealed (TADA) or has lapsed (POTA).

TADA in particular was repealed in the face of criticism for not respecting fair trial guarantees and amidst widespread allegations of abuse. Provisions in the TADA, POTA and now UAPA did not provide for the full range of fair trial guarantees: they defined offences vaguely, thus compromising the principle of legality; reversed the presumption of innocence in certain instances; allowed for long periods of pre-charge detention; made certain confessions to specific police officials admissible as evidence; and limited the right to appeal by only allowing appeals to the Supreme Court.

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