Case Briefs
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Kartar Singh V. State of Punjab

Author : Dhruv Khurana, student at ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad.

Citation : 1994 SCC (3) 569

Date of Judgement : 11th March, 1994

Bench : Sahai, R.M. (J)

Original Copy : N/A


Issues in Question:

  • Whether Section 2, Section 3 and Section 11 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act, 1987, is constitutionally valid or not?

Background of the Case:

  • During the 1980s in India, the country was full of crime and unlawful activities and the situation was becoming poor continuously. In Punjab, there were murders happening and also arsons; the activities were expanded in many states like Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh etc. 
  • There was fear in the minds of the general public and peace and harmony were affected in the daily lives of the people. The government had to do something for the betterment of the people’s lives.
  • The Central government came up with the Terrorist Affected Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1984 and the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985. These acts were formed to stop the terrorism in the country and for the betterment of the people. The objective of these acts was bringing back harmony between the people and address the issues of terrorism in the country.
  • The TADA, 1985 was formed for only 2 years and after that it expired. On the expiry date, the central government legislated Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987. This act was similar to that of the previous act and it also had some similar provisions and rules. The new act had the expiry date of 2 years but its validity was extended for 4 years and after that it was 6 years and thus remained till the year 1995. 
  • The petitioners challenged the constitutional validity of Section 2, Section 3 and Section 11 of Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act, 1987, in the Supreme Court of India.


  • In the present case, the apex court stated that the times were despearate when the present act was made; something was required to control the terrorism in many states of India. There has to be some grip on the terrorism and the violence caused in our country by the terrorists. The court said that to check the constitutionality of a legislation, they take the public knowledge and also take the common reports into consideration.
  • The apex court stated that desperate times call for desperate measures. The society could get in trouble or in disaster if it is not regulated so, the regulation is required for the same. The regulations can help society in the disruptive times to prevent the disaster from happening.
  • The court held that the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act, 1987 is required for the state and is constitutionally valid. The apex court referred to the decision of People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India, where the court held in favour of the constitutional validity of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). So, the TADA, 1987 was constitutionally valid in the case and the case was dismissed by the hon’ble judges’ panel.


  • The involved act was enforced in the desperate times but the act should protect the rights of everyone, not just protect the majority of individuals. The judiciary should protect the interests of the people. If terrorism should be tackle, then proper measures should be incorporated that do not violate the rights of the public.  
  • In the present case, the court has stressed on the importance of national security and how stronger law enforcement is needed in our country to protect it from terror attacks and the POTA act is needed to do so. The judges emphasized that to protect the people of our country more acts like these should be applied without harming the constitutional rights of the people and without comprising the rights of the citizens of our country.

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