Come September, the Maharashtra government will seek the Governor's consent for Maharashtra Protection of Internal Security Act to become an ordinance.
The proposed law, now put out to gauge and map public opinion, is meant to better tackle terrorism, caste violence, insurgency and other forms of violent extremism. It also proposes measures to protect, insulate and defend critical infrastructure in the event of planned attacks.
“It is the best thing that could have happened at this point. The well-drafted bill is now put up on the government website and we are in the process of evaluating public reactions and suggestions...If the public reaction is positive, we can quickly move to make it an ordinance in September,” Additional Chief Secretary (Home) K.P. Bakshi told THE WEEK.
The law moots hedging and defensive moves on the part of various security agencies and identifies critical infrastructure—communication systems, commercial facilities, dams, defence units, information and transport systems, water and chemical units—which face threats from ideological criminals and determined adversaries. It also empowers the government to regulate and ban sale and distribution of material products and other items deemed detrimental to internal security.
Besides, the proposed act spells out a more involved role for the police as the primary agency responsible for maintenance of law and order and as the first responders in times of crises. The bill also envisages strengthening of internal security arrangements against perceived threats from terrorists and other anti-social elements. The objective is to simultaneously ensure human security and public order and safeguard “complex infrastructure against knowledgeable and adaptable adversaries”.
The bill also talks about the carving out of special security zones in geographies that are affected by militancy and other forms of social unrest and volatility, and delineates punitive interventions on the part of the security forces in case of an internal security infringement. Offences listed in the bill will not be bailable, non-compoundable and always cognizable.