• Legis Scriptor

Effect of Terrorism on Human Rights

Authored By- Anjali Rawat

Keywords: Terrorism, Human Rights, Effects, violation, fundamental rights


Human Rights are two simple words but when put together they constitute the very foundation of our existence. The most important problem, which is a challenge to human rights, is terrorism. The clouds of terrorism have shrouded the very fantastic thing about human rights in the world. Terrorism is present and prevalent within the globe in some form or the other. In India, post-independence, it became a fragile nationwide issue with the emergence of the human rights trends. Terrorism has struck and affected almost every area of human life, but also in its economic or political, or social life. In a wider sense, terrorism is the antithesis of independence, and independence is meaningless without human rights.


The human cost of terrorism has been felt in virtually every corner of the globe. Terrorism has clear and direct effects on human rights, with devastating results for the enjoyment of the right to life, liberty, and the physical integrity of victims. The bordering states are the foremost affected regions of the terrorism in India. It led India to form various laws to counter-terrorism. Amongst these enactments are the Terrorism Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987, The Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002, Indian Penal Code section 124-a, Sedition and 125, waging war against the India and Armed Forces (Special Power Act, 1958, etc. which deals with the menace of terrorism. This article seeks to look at the various aspects and the problems relating to terrorism in India and the world. Terrorism and human rights cannot co-exist. Terrorism not only affects the rights of many but also hinders the resolution and settlement of disputes and conflicts by civil methods. The problem of terrorism transcends all frontiers whether it is national, international, political, or economic. Its solution calls for global efforts, international cooperation, and transnational actions. Terrorism is a serious world problem not because of the sheer amount of violence involved but because it constitutes a threat to the innocent life and right. Terrorism could be a voluntary action to terrorize innocent people. Terrorism according to its according to the dictionary meaning is; “use of violence and threat of violence, especially for the political purpose.”

Terrorism has no caste, creed region, or religion. Its global dimensions in the international terror are aided, protected, and financed by a number of gouts who safe havens terrorists and false passports. In the 20th century, people witnessed great changes in which the use and practice of terrorism became the hallmark for the number of political movements which stretching from the extreme right to the left of the political spectrum. The September 11 incident is very evident which shows everything. America with its more than approx 6000 people in the world trade center and Pentagon blasts is distributed as it is a blow on its face.

Meaning and Definition of Terrorism

The term terrorism has been derived from the Latin word ‘terrere’ which implies great fear. The term terrorism is extremely difficult to define; one man’s terrorism is often another man’s freedom struggle. It is estimated that between 1936 and 1985 a minimum of 115 different types of terrorism existed, such as the act or practice or terrorizing especially by violence for political purposes, as by a Government seeking to intimidate a population, or by revolutionary seeking to overthrow government compels the discharge of prisoners, etc. Jonas Alexander defines terrorism as “the use of violence against the civilians’ whereas targets intimate or create generalized pervasive threat with the aim of achieving political goals.”

The impact of terrorism on human rights

Terrorism aims at the very destruction of human rights, democracy, and therefore, the rule of law. It attacks the values that lie at the guts of the Charter of the international organization and other international instruments; respect for human rights; the rule of law; rules governing armed conflict and also the protection of civilians; tolerance among people and nations; and therefore the peaceful resolution of conflict. Terrorism includes a direct impact on the enjoyment of a variety of human rights, particularly the rights to life which is a fundamental right given under Article 21, liberty, and physical integrity. All of those have an instantaneous impact on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights. The destructive impact of terrorism on human rights and security has been recognized at the best level of the international organization, by the safety council, the overall assembly, the previous Commission on Human Rights, and also the new Human Rights Council.

In Devendra Pal Singh v N.C.T. of Delhi[1] were 9 persons had died and several others injured on account of a terrorist act and the Apex Court under the circumstances of the case said that such terrorists have no respect for human life and they should be given a death sentence.

In a much talked about the case of Sanjay Dutt v State of Maharashtra through C.B.I[2], the Supreme Court recently upheld the conviction for possessing arms and ammunition under the Arms Act 1959 and not under section -5 of the TADA.

Further, in the case of Vaiko v. union of India[3], Vaiko was arrested under section 21 of POTA (offence relating to support to a terrorist organization) on the basis of certain remarks. Later on, trial proceedings at Chennai were challenged on the ground that the central POTA review committee had found that no case was made out against them. The Madras High Court held that for the public prosecutor can independently apply his mind to the matter and they can make a decision to withdraw the case on the basis of the report of the Central POTA Review Committee and, accordingly, the court dismissed the writ petition seeking a direction to TN Government to withdraw the case. At current a Criminal Appeal against the order of the Madras High Court is left unsolved before the Apex Court.

When one goes through the provisions of the Anti Terrorism Law of other countries, it is found that British Law has an exclusive chapter on banning terrorist organizations and after banning a terrorist organization membership of a terrorist organization, ipso facto, become a punishable act. Ultimately, on September 17, 2004, the controversial Terrorism Act –POTA was repealed and in a result, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 was amended where, from the very beginning, the definition of unlawful association has been expanded too much to include any association, which has for its object any activity which are punishable under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, or which encourages or aids the people to undertake any such activity, or which members undertake any such activity, under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code is about encouraging enmity between different groups of people on the basis of religion, race, place of work, residence, language, etc. DR. A.S. Anand in the Hitendra Vishnu Thakur Case[4]once said that every terrorist may be criminal, but, every criminal cannot be give be given the level of a terrorist only to set in motion the more stringent provisions of TADA.


The guarantee of human rights and protection from terrorism cannot be over-emphasized. Combating and ultimately overcoming terrorism won't succeed if the means to secure that society isn’t in keeping with human rights standards. The elemental human rights principles that are most ordinarily engaged within the fight against terrorism. It explains states’ obligations in respect of these rights when coping with terrorism. Counter-terrorism has the strategies that are compliant with human rights not only avoid certain legal pitfalls but may additionally prove simpler within the long run at winning the ideological battle against terrorism than strategies that they violate human rights. States have an obligation to supply protection against terrorism. Human rights standards impose positive obligations on states to confirm the correct to live, protection from torture, and other human rights and freedoms. Acts of terrorism are likely to infringe or to do violations on all of the rights that are a part of a state’s positive duty to safeguard. This doesn't necessarily mean that an act of terrorism amounts to a failure to guard by the state. A good strategy to counter terrorism can therefore be part of a state’s right obligations.

[1] (2002) 5 SCC 234 [2] JT 2013 (5) SC 1 [3] W.P. No.1238 of 2004 [4] (1994) 4 SCC 602 Reference

1. Khushwant Singh, lasting solution publish in terrorism in Punjab; cause and cure, (1987)

2. Employment news, New Delhi volume xxvi no, 35, 1-7 December, 2001 p-7.

3. Hindustan times, Take stock of terror funds


6.H.O. Aggarwal, International Law, and Human Rights, 19th ed., Central Law Publication, p.678