The Indian Parliament on Tuesday night passed a controversial anti-terrorism bill, the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), at a rare joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, or the lower and upper houses.
In the division pressed by the Opposition, 425 voted in favor of the bill while 296 went against it, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
Opposition members also staged a walkout after Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker P. M. Sayeed announced the result, the PTI said.
The stringent law, already promulgated in last October, provides for capital punishment for terrorist killings, 90 days of detention without trial, special courts to deal with terrorist cases and powers to police to intercept communication which could be later presented as evidence in court.
While the government strongly advocated this bill, the Opposition said that it could lead to abuse of police power and harms to freedom and the interests of minority groups.
The joint sitting, first in 24 years, was necessitated after the bill was passed by Lok Sabha, where the ruling coalition has a majority, but rejected later by Rajya Sabha last week.
(Xinhua News Agency March 27, 2002)