February 18, 2008 19:10 IST
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Monday reiterated that the Supreme court had observed that mere expression of support to a banned organisation like the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was not an offence.
Reacting to All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo J Jayalalithaa's challenge whether he could quote the apex court order to this effect, he said, "When the issue was raised in the state assembly on January 29, he had given a detailed reply and the same was published in a English daily. Being a former chief minister, Jayalalithaa could have obtained a copy of the order in the POTA case from her lawyers and studied it properly before throwing the challenge."
He said when Congress member C Gnanasekaran raised the issue and demanded action against Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan for organising a conference in support of LTTE, the government could not take any hasty action as the apex court itself had said mere expression of support to a banned organisation would not be liable for penal action.
When Jayalalithaa came to the House the next day and countered him saying he had misled the House by incorrectly citing the Supreme Court judgment, Law and Public Works Minister Duraimurugan read out the relevant portions of the order, but she was not willing to listen.
In an interview to a English daily, he had given details of the Supreme Court order, but Jayalalithaa was repeatedly raising the issue without reading the judgment properly, Karunanidhi said.
The order produced by Justices S Rajendra Babu and G P Mathur stated: 'Offence under Section 3(1) of POTA will be constituted only if it is done with intent. If Parliament stipulates that the 'Terrorist Act' itself had to be committed with the criminal intention, can it be said that a person who 'professes' (as under Section 20) or 'invites support' or 'arranges, manages, or assists in arranging or managing a meeting' or 'addresses a meeting' (as under Section 21) has committed the offence if he does not have an intention or design to further the activities of any terrorist organisation or the commission of Terrorist Acts? We are clear that it is not.'
Karunanidhi further quoted the order, which said: 'Therefore, it is obvious that the offence under Section 20 or 21 or 22 needs positive inference that a person has acted with intent of furthering or encouraging terrorist activity or facilitating its commission. In other words, these Sections are limited only to those activities that have the intent of encouraging or furthering or promoting or facilitating the commission of terrorist activities. If these Sections are understood in this way, there cannot be any misuse.'
However, Jayalalithaa had launched a disinformation campaign and was trying to blame him for everything, whether it rained or shined in the State, in a bid to remove the government and come back to power, he said.