The SAARC Convention (Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1993

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The SAARC Convention (Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1993 (Act no. 39 of 1993) dated 26th April, 1993 was enacted with the object to make effective the convention on Suppression of Terrorism of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). SAARC is an international organisation of eight South Asian Countries and India is one of them. The SAARC regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism was signed on 4th November, 1987 and was brought into force on 22nd August 1988. India being rectifying and signatory country to the Convention this Act was enacted.  The Act under its preliminary provisions provides for short title and extension of the Act, wherein the Act was short titled as aforesaid and it is extended to the entire territories of India however, the provisions of this Act is also applicable to the offences committed outside Indian territories, but only section 6 is an exemption.

The Act provides for several important definitions in the section 2, including Convention and Convention country. Section 3 is more important so far as it is dealing with the applicability of the Article 1 to 8 of the aforementioned convention in India. It is also provided that if any law already having effect in India contains any contrary provision in this respect, then such law should not have effect when such provisions are applicable in that respect.

So far as the offence under this Act is concerned, the section 4 provides that any person after detaining the other threatens him to kill or injures him with the intention of requiring the Convention Country to do or not to do anything for avoiding the execution of such threat. Such act under section 4 is termed as offence of Hostage – taking and persons committing such offence are liable to punishment with maximum imprisonment of 10 years and also responsible to pay fine. The next provision of this Act says that this offence should not be treated as an offence of Political character under the provisions of The Extradition Act, 1962 (Act no. 34 of 1962).

The section 6 of the Act specifies that the same offence provided under the provision of section 4 of the Act if committed not within the territory of India. If such offence is committed by the Indian national either on the high seas or otherwise, by the person not Indian national on the ship or aircraft which is registered in India or even by the non-national of India committed in the Convention Country, then such person can be treated as such offence is committed by him within the India.

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Similarly, section 7 makes provisions as to obtaining sanction from the Central Government for the institution of prosecution under this Act. It is specifically provided that, before instituting any prosecution under this Act, the previous sanction from the Central Government is required and every such sanction granted by that Government should be treated as sanction granted under the provision of section 188 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Further, any action taken or done or any damage is caused by any person or Central Government respectively in pursuance of the provisions of this Act, if done in good faith then is protected against any suits or legal proceedings under section 8 of the Act.

The Act also provides for a Schedule containing Articles of the Convention which are being applicable to India as being signatory country to the Convention.

SAARC recently aimed to provide for Additional protocol to this Convention on suppression of terrorism, as such in its 28th session at Kathmandu, on 19th and 20th August, 2002 the Standing Committee of the SAARC recommended that the Legal Advisers of the SAARC Member Countries to prepare for draft of such Additional Protocol  for updating the Convention looking to the obligations devolving on Members in terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution (1373), 2001 and also The International Convention for Suppression of Financing of Terrorism. The purpose of such Additional Protocol as aforementioned, is to strengthen the concerned Convention by criminalizing the provisions, collection or acquisition of funds for the purpose of committing terrorist acts and taking further measures to prevent and suppress financing of such acts. As such, said Additional Protocol to the said Convention came into force on 12th January, 2006 after ratifying by all Member Countries.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.