Melbourne, Dec.22 : Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government's decision to give Bangalore-based doctor Mohammad Haneef the option of rejoining the oncology department at Queensland's Gold Coast Hospital after a federal court here cleared him of terrorism charges, should be placed in perspective, says an editorial in The Australian.
Hailing the federal court's ruling as a victory of due process in Australia, the editorial, however, says that the Rudd Government and its legal advisers would be well advised to take time to examine the matter in detail before giving the all clear for Dr. Haneef's return to Australia after an interval of five months.
It says that while the previous Howard Government was right in initiating an inquiry and investigation against Haneef for the alleged violation of the nation's security laws, the Bangalore-based doctor should be allowed to return and to resume his work.
"His skills are sorely needed in his former job of caring for oncology patients. This position represents a vote of confidence in due legal processes rather than any slackening of attitude to the war on terror," the editorial says.
Such a cautious approach was warranted, but sweeping anti-terrorism powers must never be abused, the editorial opines.
The paper further goes on to say that it is concerned that this botched case will undermine public confidence in the nation's severe but necessary anti-terrorism laws.
Commenting on former Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews, the editorial describes him as an experienced barrister by profession, but a minister who had acted on flimsy evidence and "appeared to be engaging in a cynical attempt to ramp up the Howard Government's security credentials to boost its lacklustre political fortunes."
Andrews decision to revoke Haneef's visa under the Migration Act was not on, and Friday's decision by Chief Justice Michael Black should be seen as "a serious admonishment of Andrews's handling of the matter."
It says that it is sobering to consider that Haneef's story would have remained suppressed from the public had he been detained under the 2005 amendments to the National Security Information Act rather than the 2004 provisions.
It would not have been possible even for Dr Haneef's lawyers to discuss the fact he had been detained. Friday's outcome shows that the due legal processes work effectively.
"The Haneef case shows why, on matters of terror, checks and balances are best maintained when politics take a back seat to police and the courts," the editorial in The Australian concludes.
It remains to be seen whether the Rudd Government will appeal to the High Court, but Immigration Minister Chris Evans is reluctant to do so at this stage. (ANI)
© 2007 ANI