Gandhinagar | Gujarat’s controversial Anti- Terror Bill, which failed to get Presidential assent thrice, was passed by the state Assembly today with the rechristened legislation retaining provisions like empowering police to tap telephonic conversations and submit them in court as evidence.
The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill 2015, which also makes confessions made before police admissible in court and extends the period of probe from the stipulated 90 days to 180 days before the filing of chargesheet, was approved by a majority vote amid stiff resistance from oppposition Congress, which walked out of the House over its controversial provisions.
After failing to get Presidential assent for its Anti-Terror Bill thrice since 2004 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister, the Gujarat government re-introduced the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) Bill by renaming it but has retained the controversial measures.
The Bill has several controversial provisions including admissibility of evidence collected through telephonic interception and confession made before police officer being considered as evidence in court.
Congress leaders Shankarsinh Vaghela and Shaktisinh Gohil demanded that the measures be dropped as per the suggestions of past Presidents when they rejected the Bill.
The bill also came under attack from social activists like Medha Patkar who said it has dangerous implications.
It is a very very dangerous situation for the rights of the people, she said.
However, the government justified the provisions by saying that the existing legal frame work like the penal and procedural laws and adjudicatory system have been found to be rather inadequate to curb or control the menace of organised crime. It is therefore considered necessary to enact a special law with stringent and deterrent provisions, it said.
Justifying the provision of telephonic interceptions, the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ in the Bill states that this is necessary in these times where organised criminal syndicates make extensive use of wire and oral communication. It says that the interception of such communication to obtain evidence is inevitable and an indispensable aid for the law enforcement.
Former President APJ Abdul Kalam had in 2004 objected to the particular section-14 (telephonic interception as evidence) and returned the bill to the Modi government asking it to remove the clause.
The Bill was again introduced today in the House by Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel, after which a long debate took place on it, in which Opposition Congress demanded removal of controversial sections like telephonic interceptions, confessions made before some police officer as evidence and time limit of 180 days for filing of chargesheet.
Rejecting the demand of the Congress, Patel said that the provisions of this Bill are in favour of the nation and people besides allowing authorities to take action against traitors.
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