Do ends justify means?


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‘It pains me that we have an occasion in this House to give our assent to martial law which was forced on us by an Ordinance... Why have they [government] smuggled this legislation in this way? It is really a challenge to the concept of democracy and freedom that we have.’

– Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha chairing the afternoon session on 18 August 1958.1


‘This [Indian] Parliament is giving its seal of approval to a legal monstrosity to quell another kind of monstrosity.’

– Mr Mohanty, Member of Parliament.2


‘Does the Honourable minister feel that this is the procedure, he can shoot if it is a disturbed area, that is the procedure established by law? He can shoot. Anybody can be killed or shot at, but is this procedure established by law, does it go to that extent? Article 21 says that no person can be deprived of his life. Here any person can be deprived of life by any commissioned officer, he can shoot.’

– Speaker of the Lok Sabha on 18 August 1958 to the then Home Minister G.B. Pant.3


THE trenchant observations were in response to the introduction in Parliament of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in 1958, intended to quell, in the words of then Home Minister G.B. Pant, ‘arson, murder, loot, dacoity etc. by a certain misguided sections of the Nagas.’ Amended in 1972, the AFSPA allows arbitrary arrest, search without warrant and summary execution with virtual impunity. It was meant to be on the statute book for one year. However, 44 years later, it is still in operation, and the Naga issue remains as problematic as when the act was originally passed.

In stark contrast to the principled stand taken by opposition MPs in 1958 was the more recent debate over the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance, or POTO, introduced in Parliament on 16 October 2001. The events of 11 September gave the Government of India the dubious pretext it needed to introduce the draconian ordinance. The Congress and other opposition parties opposed it even as ministers in the BJP-led government cited the misuse of other laws as a justification for POTO.

Few Opposition members, however, were able to raise their arguments to the level of the informed and cerebral debates of the 1950s. The attack on the Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001 further served to water down the stand taken by the Congress and other opposition parties. When the re-promulgated POTO was introduced on the first day of the Budget session of Parliament in March 2002, it encountered nothing beyond a few token statements of protest.

The question that needs to be asked is whether there is a genuine need for yet another anti-terrorist law. The Ministry of Home Affairs justified POTO on two grounds: increase in terrorist activities, and a lack of domestic laws to deal with terrorism.



Increased terrorist activity? The Ministry of Home Affairs in its press briefing stated: ‘There is an upsurge of terrorist activities, intensification of cross-border terrorism and insurgent groups in different parts of the country. Organised crime and terrorism are closely interlinked. Terrorism has now acquired global dimensions and has become a challenge for the entire world.’4

The ministry had evidently failed to verify its information. Even Jammu and Kashmir, according to its 2000-2001 Annual Report, had witnessed a gradual reduction of incidents. ‘Despite the spurt of terrorist incidents in J&K in the post-Kargil phase, the number of incidents during 2000 (3074) was almost equal that of 1999 (3071) and was still much less than the yearwise figures of any other preceding calendar year since 1990, except 1998 (2932). The figure of civilians killed also showed a decline to 762 in 2000 (compared to 821 in 1999) which is the lowest since l994 (820). The number of militants killed in 2000 (1520) was higher than that of 1998 (999) or 1999 (1075).

‘However, the security forces, due to specific targeting by the terrorists, suffered 482 casualties in 2000 compared to 408 persons killed in the preceding calendar year. In the calendar year 2000, the number of militants killed has exceeded that of the full 12 months period of each of the last five years. The SF to militants killed ratio which had at one point gone down to 1:3.3 has now again risen to ratio 1:3.8 though the militants today are much better trained, equipped and experienced than before. In fact, before the Ramzan peace initiative of government was undertaken with effect from 28 November 2000, the ratio had risen to 1:4.’5



Lack of adequate domestic laws? The terror scenario, the MHA further claimed, had changed so radically that the existing laws could not be expected to tackle it. ‘The reach and methods adopted by terrorist organisations take advantage of modern means of communications and technology using high-tech facilities available in the form of communication systems, transport, sophisticated arms, etc. This has enabled them to strike and create terror at will. The existing criminal justice system was not designed to deal with the types of heinous crimes that have appeared in the country in the last 50 years. Separate definition of terrorist acts, special provisions relating to financing of terrorism, use of explosives and weapons of mass destruction and substances of chemical and biological warfare, operation of terrorist organisations, etc. were not there or were ineffective.’6

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The colonial British administration dealt with terrorism in British India using the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Since Independence, the CrPC and the IPC have been amended on numerous occasions to deal with new or emerging threats.

The National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) categorically rejected the MHAs arguments and asserted that the existing laws were sufficient to deal with the ‘new’ situation. The NHRC had also opposed the continuing use of TADA and the framing of the Draft Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2000 by the Law Commission of India.

NHRC Chairman, Justice J.S. Verma, while opposing POTO stated that, ‘There is no need to enact a law based on the Draft Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2000 and the needed solution can be found under the existing laws, if properly enforced and implemented, and amended, if necessary. The proposed Bill, if enacted, would have the ill-effect of providing unintentionally a strong weapon capable of gross misuse and violation of human rights which must be avoided particularly in view of the experience of the misuse in the recent past of TADA and earlier of MISA of the emergency days.’

Justice Verma further stated that, ‘Such a course is consistent with our country’s determination to combat and triumph over terrorism in a manner also consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights.’



There is a plethora of draconian laws aimed at dealing with terrorist activities. At the central level, there is the National Security Act 1980, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958, the Disturbed Areas Act, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, the Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act 1911, the Religious Institution (Prevention of Misuse) Ordinance 1988, the Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 No. 65 of 1982, the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act 1982, the Disturbed Areas Special Courts Act 1976, the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act 1974, the Prevention of Blackmarketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act 1980, the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1988, the Indian Telegraph Act, and the Information Technology Act 2000.

State-specific legislation includes the Andhra Pradesh Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Land Grabbers Act 1986, the Assam Preventive Detention Act 1980, the Bihar Control of Crimes Act 1981, the Gujarat Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act 1985, the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978, the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1988, the Karnataka Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Gamblers, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Slum-Grabbers Act 1985, the Maharashtra Prevention of Communal, Anti-Social and other Dangerous Activities Act 1980, the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Slumlords, Bootleggers and Drug Offenders Act 1981, the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Slum Grabbers Act 1982.



A cursory comparison of POTO and other existing national security laws, penal laws and criminal laws shows that with the exception of those provisions which are contrary to universally accepted cardinal principles, POTO contains no new provisions. The provisions of section 3 of POTO which defines terrorist acts are covered under sections 121, 121A, 122, and 123 of the Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and other legislation listed above. Section 3.8 of POTO relating to punishment for those in possession of information of material assistance in preventing the commission of terrorist acts is already covered by section 39 of the CrPC.

Section 4 of POTO relating to possession of certain unauthorised arms is covered by the Arms Act, the Explosives Act 1884, and the Explosive Substances Act or the Inflammable Substances Act 1952. Sections 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 dealing with the proceeds of terrorism are covered by sections 451-459 of the CrPC. Moreover, sections 7 and 11 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 specifically deal with such proceeds from the banned organisations. Section 18 of POTO relating to the declaration of an organisation as a terrorist organisation is covered under section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Section 19 of POTO relating to denotification of a terrorist organisations is similar to section 3 (2) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967. The latter in fact provides fairer procedural guarantees to the concerned organisations. Furthermore, POTO, unlike the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, does not provide for review mechanisms. The burden of proof lies with the accused organisation. The government acts as juror and judge. Section 20 relating to membership of a terrorist organisation is already covered by section 10 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 dealing with members of an unlawful association.



Section 21 relating to support given to a terrorist organisation is already covered under section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 that deals with any individual who (a) takes part in or commits, or (b) advocates, abets, advises or incites the commission of any unlawful activity. Section 22 of POTO relating to fund raising for a terrorist organisation is covered under section 11 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 that deals with funds of an unlawful association. Section 23 relating to special courts, section 4 of the Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976 already empower the government to establish special courts to try offences given in the Schedule.

Section 30 relating to protection of witnesses is covered under the Indian Evidence Act. Section 32, providing for certain confessions made to the police officers to be taken into consideration, violates section 25 and 26 of the Indian Evidence Act.

Section 35 relating to interception of communications under certain cases is already covered under section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act and section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 allows such interceptions. Section 69 of the IT Act states, ‘(i) If the controller is satisfied that it is necessary and expedient to do so in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence, for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order, direct any agency of the government to intercept any information transmitted through the computer resource.’

Section 48 relating to the modified application of certain provisions of the code with regard to detention is already covered under section 13 of the National Security Act which provides for detention for upto 12 months. Section 50 relating to officers competent to investigate offences under this ordinance is already provided under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.



The experiences under TADA do not evoke confidence with regard to the implementation of POTO. In October 1993, according to the Union Home Ministry, the total number of detentions under TADA was 52,268; the conviction rate of those tried by designated courts was 0.81% ever since the law came into force. Punjab, with 14,557 detainees, showed a conviction rate of 0.37%. On 24 August 1994, then Minister of State of Home, Rajesh Pilot, stated that of the 67,000-odd persons detained since TADA came into force, only 8,000 cases were tried of which 725 persons were convicted. Thus, 59,509 people had been needlessly detained; no cases were brought against them.7 The review committees of TADA stated that other than in 5,000 cases the application of TADA was wrong, and asked for the withdrawal of the cases. In more than 50,000 cases TADA was wrongly applied.8

According to the Home Ministry’s conservative estimates, more than 76,036 people had been arrested and detained under the act by mid-1994. Remarkably, only one per cent of these detainees were ever convicted of the charges against them, despite the relaxed prosecutorial burdens under TADA.9 Such infirmities generated widespread opposition to TADA, and under public pressure, the Parliament allowed the act to lapse in May 1995.



The broad provisions of TADA were widely misused and thus serve as a guide for understanding some of the threats posed by POTO. A survey of TADA cases reveal many instances of false arrests, police excesses and extortion. People were imprisoned under the act for matters entirely unconnected with violent political acts. In 1987, six workers of Reliance Industries Limited in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, were arrested under TADA for legitimate trade union activity. In August 1991, a member of the Haryana Legislative Assembly, Om Prakash Jindal, had a TADA case filed against him.10

In some parts of India, the act was used almost exclusively against non-Hindus in a discriminatory manner. According to the National Commission for Minorities, the total number of persons arrested under TADA in Rajasthan as of 1 September 1994 was 432 of which 409 persons belonged to minority groups. The recent communal riots in Gujarat and the biased treatment of minorities by the police are an added reason to distrust assurances of equitable enforcement of such legislation.

What POTO seeks to do is hold the accused for a prolonged period of detention without such preliminary measures as filing of a chargesheet, and effectively subverts the cardinal rule of the criminal justice system by putting the burden of proof on the accused. It does this by withholding the identity of witnesses, by making confessions made to the police officer admissible as evidence, and making bail extremely difficult by giving the public prosecutor the power to deny bail. POTO will basically be used for preventive detention.

POTO is more draconian than TADA in many respects. TADA was reviewed every two years. POTOs definitions of terms like ‘terrorist activities’, ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’, ‘support to a terrorist organisation’, ‘concerned with terrorism’ – and, for that matter, of the concept of ‘terrorism’ itself – are sketchy and therefore highly susceptible to misuse. ‘Terrorist acts’ bringing about the death of any person incur the death penalty or life imprisonment (and a fine). Conspiracy, attempts at committing or the advocating, abetting, advising, inciting or knowing facilitation of the commission of ‘terrorist acts’ or ‘any act preparatory to a terrorist act’ call for imprisonment of no less than five years, extendable up to life imprisonment (and a fine).



A three years imprisonment can result from (attempting to) harbour and conceal a person known to be a ‘terrorist’ (unless a husband-wife relation holds between the ‘terrorist’ and the harbourer/concealer). Membership of ‘an organisation which is concerned with or involved in terrorism’ (that is, as determined under POTO, a terrorist gang or organisation) and the holding of property derived or obtained from commission of any terrorist act is to be punished with life imprisonment and/or a fine. POTOs vast potential for the repression of constitutional rights and freedoms is vested in the following provisions:

* No review of POTO provisions for three years from the date of its coming into force; applicability not only in specified territories and situations but across India [section 1(6)];

* (Potential) applicability of POTO to cases of murder, robbery, theft – and other crimes that would ordinarily be covered under the Indian Penal Code – under an expansive definition of ‘terrorism’ (retained from TADA) in addition to new crimes under the heading of ‘terrorist act’ (section 3). Among these: (a) Membership of an unlawful association (under the Unlawful Activities – Prevention – Act, 1967) or any voluntary act ‘aiding or promoting in any manner the objects of such association’ [section 3(1)(b)]. (b) ‘Whoever conspires or attempts to commit, or advocates, abets, advises or incites or knowingly facilitates the commission of terrorist act or any act preparatory to terrorist act’ [section 3(3)]. Criminal liability for mere association or communication with suspected terrorists is made possible and needs to be foreclosed by a narrow definition of the act of ‘abetting’ that requires proof of commitment to, planning of or direct assistance to terrorist acts or possession of criminal intent.

(c) (Attempts to) harbour or conceal a terrorist [section 3 (4)]: In the absence of an indication of who is empowered to designate someone a terrorist for the purposes of this section. (The TADA experience warns of prosecution without due conviction of persons allegedly having harboured a terrorist, excluding a requirement for the harbourer’s awareness of the guest’s terrorist affiliations).11

* Criminalisation of the mere membership of a ‘terrorist gang’ or ‘terrorist organisation’ (terrorist organisation being defined tautologically as ‘an organisation which is concerned with or involved in terrorism’ and thus, potentially and arbitrarily, extending to many patently non-terrorist organisations) [section 3(5)];

* Designation of the act of ‘threatening a witness’ as a terrorist act [section 3(7)] and non-disclosure of witness identities [section 30]: This is liable to be misused by the police through the making of false accusations.

* Punishment for failure ‘without any reasonable cause’ of disclosure of information ‘of material assistance’ to the prevention, apprehension and prosecution of an alleged terrorist [section 3(8)]: Such failure is to be assessed by the police and might, for instance, be used against a journalist interviewing a person belonging to an armed opposition group in a clandestine hideout, for instance.

* Criminalisation of the possession of an unauthorised weapon in notified areas and of bombs, dynamite or hazardous explosive substances or other lethal weapons capable of mass destruction or biological or chemical substances of warfare in any area [section 4]: This provision can lend itself easily to abuse, especially by police officers. This charge is difficult to prove, and there is the danger of arbitrary and selective application. Moreover, the same offences also fall under the IPC. Finally, offenders out of negligence and without criminal intent may be charged for possession of weapons with recently expired licences.

* Institution of mandatory minimum sentences, little discretion left to judges regarding the severity of sentencing, extensive invocation of the death penalty regardless of the absence of the required higher standards of scrutiny [section 5].

* Unregulated police power to attach ‘property derived or obtained from the commission of a terrorist act or from the proceeds of terrorism’ [section 6].

* Punishment of state and private business officials for failure to furnish information (arbitrarily requested) [section 14]; attachment of property of accused and seizure of property of convicted under POTO [section 16]. The proceeds in this case would accrue to the government.

* Absence of the requirement on the part of government to furnish evidence and specify grounds when issuing a notification declaring an organisation a ‘terrorist organization’. The onus is on the accused organisation to disprove the validity of its having been declared a terrorist organisation by the central government [section 18]. The central government thus becomes the judge, jury and prosecutor.

* Membership of a ‘terrorist organisation’ as constituting an offence. There is no obligation on the government to provide information pertaining to an accused organization. The onus of denying the accusation of membership of such an organisation is on the accused (failure to do so may result in a ten year imprisonment) [section 20]. This violates internationally accepted standards of the presumption of innocence.

* Outlawing of the legally undefined offence of giving ‘support’ to a terrorist organisation, committed by inviting ‘support’ (not merely through the provision of money or other property), (assisting in) arranging and managing a ‘meeting’ in ‘support’ of a terrorist organisation or to be addressed by persons belonging to a terrorist organisation or addressing a meeting12 in support of a terrorist organisation (even in the absence of criminal conspiracy or criminal intent) [section 21].

* Outlawing of encouragement or receiving of money or other donations intended ‘for the purposes of terrorism’ [section 22]. This can implicate, for instance, those who are compelled to pay ‘taxes’ to armed opposition groups in the North East Indian states.

* Establishment of ‘special courts’ for trials under POTO, and interference by the central government with regard to the scope of the jurisdiction of these courts [section 23]. This provision can seriously jeopardise the independence of the judiciary.

* Special courts’ discretion to hold trials in non-public places (such as prisons) and to withhold trial records from public scrutiny [section 24]. This prevents the independent monitoring of special court sessions.

* Special courts’ discretion to try the accused for any charges under the CrPC if connected to a POTO charge against the accused [section 25].

* Special courts’ discretion to ‘draw an adverse inference’ from the refusal of the accused to give samples of ‘hand writing, finger prints, foot prints, photographs, blood, saliva, semen, hair and voice’ [section 27(2)]. This constitutes denial of the presumption of innocence.

* Option of summary trials for offences punishable with less than three years imprisonment [section 29]. There is no provision for challenging the sufficiency of prosecution evidence prior to trial, implying the possibility of custodial detention for an indefinite period in the absence of evidence and of an appeal mechanism for the accused.

* Special courts’ discretion to proceed with trial in the absence of the accused or his/her lawyer, denial of right of appeal or to representation of the accused [section 29(5)]. This enhances special courts’ subjective control over the trial process.

* Special courts’ discretion to hold the trial in camera and to keep witnesses’ identities secret [section 30]. This undermines the right to a fair trial through the prejudicing of the defence case. It offers protection to witnesses for the prosecution, but not to witnesses for the defence. Finally, it denies the right of the accused to oppose the withholding of witnesses’ identity.

* Admissibility for prosecution purposes of confessions made to police officers [section 31]. This is in disregard of section 25 of the Evidence Act. There is also no explicit prohibition of statements made to the police under (threat of) torture, and no specification of conditions under which ‘an atmosphere of free from threat or inducement’ persists.

* Admissibility of intercepted communication as evidence against the accused [section 44].

* Option of pretrial police detention for up to 180 days [section 48]. This is in violation of the right to a speedy trial.

* Requirement of public prosecutor’s agreement for release on bail [section 48 (6-8)], denial of bail to foreigners [section 49 (9)]. These provisions create undue barriers to bail and discrimination.

* Drawing of adverse inferences prompted by police allegations [section 52]. Reverses rules of evidence and violates the right to presumption of innocence.

* Protection of and likelihood of denial of punishment for action by the central or state governments under POTO ‘taken in good faith’ [section 56]. Provides blanket immunity to ‘any serving member or retired member of the armed forces or other para-military forces’, leading to the increased likelihood of abuse of POTO provisions.

* Punishment and compensation for malicious action on behalf of police officers ‘knowing that there are no reasonable grounds for proceeding’ under POTO [section 57]. This provision actually reduces, rather than enhances, the likelihood of prosecution of police abuse of POTO, especially in the absence of protection to witnesses for the defence.

* Institution of central and state review committees [section 59]. This provision suffers from a lack of guidelines, a lack of provisions for the detainee’s representation before the review committee, and does not require report submission by the review committees to Parliament or state assemblies, implying subordination of Parliament and the judiciary to government officials.

* Lack of provisions for trial procedure (in the absence of the CrPCs applicability). There is no requirement to make the FIR or remand report available to the accused at arrest or in first court hearing, leading to the possibility that the accused may remain ignorant of the reason for his/her arrest for upto 180 days.



Just as good legislation is no substitute for political will and statesmanship in the struggle against terrorism, legislative protections are no substitute for the efficient and accountable enforcement of these laws. POTO does not even offer the minimum safeguards for a reasonable, fair and due process of law.

Problems that are political in nature cannot be resolved by brute force or the enactment of draconian laws like POTO. The success of the Mizoram Peace Accord of 1986 is a good example. The Mizoram Peace Accord, itself clearly not a consequence of the implementation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, reflected the political wisdom of both the Government of India and the Mizo National Front in seeking to find a negotiated settlement to the Mizo problem.

At the same time, not every peace accord can be successful. The failure of the Tripura Accord of 1989, for example, was due to the pauperisation of the ethnic Tripuris caused by the migration of hundreds of thousands of the victims of Partition. Yet, the intractability of the Tripura problem does not mean that it can be solved by the mechanical imposition of POTO-like legislation.

Indeed, there are no quick fix solutions to the complex peace and security problems facing India. Overemphasis on the extent of these security problems provides little guidance as regards the proper course for future policy. The causes of these problems must be understood more fully, including the degree to which the government itself contributes to disorder and decline. In fact when the Prevention of Terrorism Bill was tabled by the Law Commission, it justified the draft by describing the situation in Assam thus: ‘1.5.2 The Bodo militants were responsible for 178 incidents (215 killings) in 1997, as against 213 incidents (260 killings) in 1996. Bodo militants were also responsible for 10 explosions (22 deaths) in 1997. During 1998, an upward trend has been evident.’



The National Democratic Front of Bodoland has been banned as a terrorist organisation under POTO. The present Governor of Manipur, Ved Marwah in his book, Uncivil Wars: Pathology of Terrorism in India, writes: ‘The Bodos were initially trained in handling arms and explosives by the SSB (Special Security Bureau) as a second line of defence against any invading forces. The SSBs role has been a subject of much controversy and its critics accuse it of short sightedness and [of] preparing the group for the spread of terrorism among the Bodos. Bodo militancy has been on the ascendancy since late 1980s and over the past few years.’13

The central government and its agencies often create and arm groups which later turn into Frankenstein-type monsters. The resulting militancy, in turn, is used by the government as a justification for draconian legislation. As Supreme Court Justice Pandian warned in one of the most significant TADA decisions to come from the court: ‘If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of criminal law the end justifies the means, to declare that the government can commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal would bring terrible retribution.’14



1. Lok Sabha Debates, 18 August 1958.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.




7. A.G. Noorani, ‘Banality of Repression’, Frontline, 23 September 1994, p. 121.

8. ‘Public opinion favours amending, not scrapping TADA’, The Times of India, 11 February 1995.

9. Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Memorandum to the Full Commission of NHRC, ‘Annexure I’ (19 December 1994). The materials include a comprehensive survey of arrests under TADA and the current status of those accused or held under TADA as of 30 June 1994. These numbers were the official statistics used during the Parliamentary and public debates surrounding the lapse of the act.

10. The Indian Express, New Delhi, 12 August 1991.

11. While husband-wife relations are excluded from the scope of this section, other close family relations are not.

12. Public or private, consisting of three or more people.

13. Ved Marwah, Uncivil Wars: Pathology of Terrorism in India, Harper Collins Publishers India, 1995, p. 312.

14. Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab, 1994 (3) SCC 569, at 719-20.