Judicial Dictionary

Terrorism means

The term ‘terrorism’ has not been defined under the Act. This Court in Hitendra Vishnu Thakur vs. State of Maharashtra (1994) 4 SCC 602 held in paragraph 7 (SCC p.618) as under:-

“7. ‘Terrorism’ is one of the manifestations of increased lawlessness and cult of violence. Violence and crime constitute a threat to an established order and are a revolt against a civilised society. ‘Terrorism’ has not been defined under TADA nor is it possible to give a precise definition of ‘terrorism’ or lay down what constitutes ‘terrorism’. It may be possible to describe it as use of violence when its most important result is not merely the physical and mental damage of the victim but the prolonged psychological effect it produces or has the potential of producing on the society as a whole. There may be death, injury, or destruction of property or even deprivation of individual liberty in the process but the extent and reach of the intended terrorist activity travels beyond the effect of an ordinary crime capable of being punished under the ordinary penal law of the land and its main objective is to overawe the Government or disturb harmony of the society or “terrorise” people and the society and not only those directly assaulted, with a view to disturb even tempo, peace and tranquillity of the society and create a sense of fear and insecurity. A ‘terrorist’ activity does not merely arise by causing disturbance of law and order or of public order. The fall out of the intended activity must be such that it travels beyond the capacity of the ordinary law enforcement agencies to tackle it under the ordinary penal law. Experience has shown us that ‘terrorism’ is generally an attempt to acquire or maintain power or control by intimidation and causing fear and helplessness in the minds of the people at large or any section thereof and is a totally abnormal phenomenon. What distinguishes ‘terrorism’ from other forms of violence, therefore, appears to be the deliberate and systematic use of coercive intimidation. More often than not, a hardened criminal today takes advantage of the situation and by wearing the cloak of ‘terrorism’, aims to achieve for himself acceptability and respectability in the society because unfortunately in the States affected by militancy, a ‘terrorist’ is projected as a hero by his group and often even by the misguided youth. It is therefore, essential to treat such a criminal and deal with him differently than an ordinary criminal capable of being tried by the ordinary Courts under the penal law of the land. Even though the crime committed by a ‘terrorist’ and an ordinary criminal would be overlapping to an extent but then it is not the intention of the Legislature that every criminal should be tried under TADA, where the fall out of his activity does not extend beyond the normal frontiers of the ordinary criminal activity. Every ‘terrorist’ may be a criminal but every criminal cannot be given the label of a ‘terrorist’ only to set in motion the more stringent provisions of TADA. The criminal activity in order to invoke TADA must be committed with the requisite intention as contemplated by Section 3(1) of the Act by use of such weapons as have been enumerated in Section 3(1) and which cause or are likely to result in the offences as mentioned in the said section.”

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