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Terrorism and Law


Terrorism is not an unknown concept to society and it has always been there. Even in the 1st century, the Zealots of Judea were the first ones that came into the limelight as an example of ‘Terrorism’ to society of mankind, from there it grew in the form of assassins. Even after so many years, it is still associated with ‘Terrorism’ and remembered well. Terrorism has become a threat to the national security of countries. Terrorism works against the principle of humanity which may harm people around the world. To prevent terrorist attacks on any country one must pay attention to the security situation of any country and must work to improvise it. New laws must be made about anti-terrorism and the States must make amends with the changing world and with the need of the hour. 


Terrorism is the use of violence or threat that violence may be used against civilians intentionally and indiscriminately. Terrorism is also used when the terrorist groups are unsatisfied with the doings of the ruling government. Civilians are an easy target for these groups, they may use the unhappiness of the general public to manipulate them against the ruling government. The term ‘TERRORISM’ found its origin in French Revolution in the 18th century. But, came in limelight during the time of the Basque Conflict and Palestinian Conflict in the 1970s. The data recorded by the Global Terrorism Database shows that 61,000 terrorist events took place during the year 2004-2014.

Terrorism may vary from one country to another depending upon the political system of the concerned country. These are as follows—

Civil Disorder: An act that interferes with the peace, security, and democratic functioning of any country.  

Political Terrorism: This act is aimed at the inducement of fear as well as a political objective.

Non-Political Terrorism: The act is aimed at just inducement of fear in eyes of the general public and not for the political objective which may or may not is achieved.   

Anonymous Terrorism: If an act of terrorism is committed then either the perpetrators or the government may put a tag that a certain terrorist group committed the act but, in reality, no one knows the actual sinner.

Quasi Terrorism: Terrorist activities are intended to create fear in the mind of general public; in quasi-terrorism, the act was done with the methods and techniques of actual terrorism but its aim isn’t to induce fear among the general public.    

Limited Political Terrorism: Government may deceive the general public by going for the ideological approach whereas, in reality, the only intention was to control the state.

State Terrorism: Government rule which is laid down with the fear and oppression of the general public, qualifies as an act of terrorism.


The laws to combat terrorism have been introduced since 1937, with the attack of 2001 on the twin towers in the U.S. It pushed the government to make more stringent laws with regard to anti-terrorism resultantly, we see the passing of U.S.A PATRIOT Act in 2001 with the objective of punishing the terrorist attackers in U.S.A. and anywhere in the world. U.K implemented the Act of Prevention of Terrorism in 1974, the Anti-Terrorism and Security Act of 2001 for preventing terrorist activities.     

Code of Conduct Towards Achieving a World Free of Terrorism was adopted in the year 2018 when the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly was introduced by the then Kazakhstan President namely, Nursultan Nazarbayev, aimed at laying down commitments by countries around the world and collective working of countries against the terrorism and same was signed by around 70 countries.


In India, terrorism is a major threat to the community of people. Here, these groups are in the names of Islam Terror, Separatist Terror, and Left-Wing terror. With the number of states, we have different forms of labeled terrorism, Kashmir-Islam, Punjab-Separatists, Assam-Secessionist, and in the east we have Naxalism. In the year, 2017 there were about 900 terrorist incidents that led to the death of 465 people. Indian Terrorism mainly consists of—

Ethnicity: Aimed at creating a separate state within India based on ethnicity and Emphasis on opinions of one ethnic origin over the other;

Religious: Terror act done by people of a specific religious community may lead other religious community to target the community that planned the attack and generates hatred among two different religious community;

Left-Wing: This is related to economic exploitation and to deal with it they may use unnecessary violence;

Narcoterrorism: Creation of Narcotics Traffic Zones illegally.

It was reported that over 180 terrorist groups have been operating in India for the last 20 years and more than half of them are terrorist networks that flow through the South Asian continent.


High Court Bombing 2011

The morning of 7 September 2011 claimed 15 lives injuring about 75 people during the blast. The responsibility was accepted by Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, they demanded that convicted accused Mohammed Afzal Guru responsible for Parliamentary Attack in Delhi should not be hanged as decided in trial by Supreme Court. Later another group called IM took the responsibility for the attack. Eventually, Wasim Akram Malik, Junaid Akram Malik, Amir Abbas Dev, Shakir Hussain Seikh, and Amir Kamal were arrested, questioned, and held responsible for the attack, and the charge of waging a war against the nation was framed.  

Dantewada Attack 2019

In the year 2019 according to a report compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal, this was the 39th incident based on Maoist Insurgency that took place in India. During the attack 41 insurgents, 19 civilians, and 7 security personnel lost their lives. Major Maoist attacks have been taking place since the NDA government came into power and it’s a serious issue that needs to be looked into by the central government.  

Sukma – Bijapur Attack 2021

It was a planned attack by Naxalite Maoist Insurgents related to the Communist Party of India (Maoist) against the security forces of India on April 3 in 2021, killing 9 Naxalites and 22 Security Personnel, injuring 30 people. The attack was launched from Sukma and Bijapur districts targeting South Bastar forests. The central government stated that a befitting reply would be given to terrorists at an appropriate time.


Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 was created to answer the questions of the territorial integrity of India. The act was mainly for declaring secessionist organizations as illegal under the purview of the central government.   

With the attack on the Indian Parliament and Mumbai attacks, the Indian government formed a new agency called National Investigation Agency with the authority to deal with activities related to terror without any permission from states. The powers of states must not be affected by any provision of this law. Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (Amendment), 2008 aimed at changing procedure to allow the NIA to act effectively on any act of terrorism. With this amendment, the period of police custody increased to 30 days and a charge sheet can be filed within 180 days if reasonable reasons are given. Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 amended from time to time with the changing times and does not solely depend on the terrorist attacks but also on the sufferings of victims.

Terrorism and Disruptive Activities, 1985 (TADA) was passed after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India granting more powers to the government to deal with acts of terrorism. India witnessed major terrorist acts after repealing of TADA including hijacking flights in 1999 and an attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. With these going on, the need for a stringent law was felt and eventually Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act, 2002 was passed with the objective of strengthening anti-terrorism operations within India.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 expands its power by allowing an individual to be declared a terrorist without trial if enough evidence is there. The investigation done by any officer of the National Investigation Agency requires prior approval of the Director General of NIA to seize any property that might be connected with terrorism. NIA officers may undertake the investigation in such cases. However, this amendment was criticized worldwide due to its failure to follow the process as mentioned in the law and violated many human rights mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was deemed that allowing provisions that make one a terrorist without trial itself shows the lawlessness of laws that are made to protect people.   


Many people around the world question the reasonability of law. These people must take note of the people who are concerned with the said law. Law framers while making the laws must ensure that no one should suffer due to the laws being favorable for one while not for others. Here, Human Rights Lawyers keep on claiming that the human rights of terrorists must not be denied, but what about those who are still suffering and will continue to suffer in the future due to the loss of their loved ones, who would be there to stand by their side to give them encouragement to fight and live with the harsh reality of the world. ‘Everything comes with a price when one commits the crime of killing another human being and they must pay for their sins but as per following due process of law.

This article is written by Simran Gulia, pursuing BA LLB from Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies.

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