Thursday, April 16, 2015

Civil society groups tell Gujarat governor: New anti-terror law will mean undeclared emergency in the state

OP Kohli
By Our Representative
The Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD) and People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Gujarat, in representation to Gujarat governor OP Kohli have asked him reject the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and organized Crimes (GCTOC), passed by the Gujarat state assembly on March 31, saying, if this bill turned into an Act, it will be a “mockery of democracy” and would among to “undeclared emergency like situation” in Gujarat.
In a memorandum submitted to the governor, they have said, the till is a “synthesis of the Gujarat Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) Bill, which was rejected for four times by the President of India, and anti-terrorism laws already dropped the Parliament such as Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act (TADA) and Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).
Pointing out that it is modeled on the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), the two civil rights organizations said, “The bill is in inconsistent with the policy on terror laws as mentioned in the Central Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.”
The memorandum said, “The earlier versions having been rejected by governors as well as Presidents of India in 2004, 2008 and 2009.”
Giving an example of how such strict laws were always misused by the Gujarat police, the memorandum said, “A total 11,916 were arrested under Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Act between 2009 and 2014 in Gujarat”, of of these, more than 10,000 were acquitted by the Court and the PASA board, suggesting how it was being politically misused.
Giving details of “objectionable” parts of the GCTOC, the memorandum said, “The draconian provisions of this bill centre around Clause 16 which holds that confessions made by persons before a police officer not below the rank of police superintendent will be admissible in trials of the accused/co-accused/abettor or conspirator.”
Other “draconian” provisions, the memorandum said, included allowing evidence collected through the interception of wire, electronic or oral communication admissible in the court against accused; and allowing the period of investigation to be extended to 180 days so that the police have more time to keep an accused in custody.
"Moreover”, the memorandum says, “the Bill provides immunity from legal action to the state, as Clause 25 of the bill indicates that no suit, prosecution or legal proceedings shall lie against the state government or officer of authority of the same in pursuance of the law”.
Further, the according to the memorandum, the bill prevents an accused from getting bail “while in custody”; it makes “offences under the bill non-bailable”; and it says that no person accused of offences under the law should be “released on either bail or his own bond.”
Pointing out that the bill “promote police tyranny and abuse of the law in order to settle political scores”, the memorandum asserts, “As a matter of fact the Code of Criminal Procedure is adequate enough to deal with the internal security. So there is no need to enact GCTOC.”
This Bill is aimed to gag the voice of people of the state who are anguished because of the Land Acquisition Act, Anti Laborlaws , rising corruptions exposed in recently tabled CAG Report in Gujarat Assembly and growing unemployment and insecurities of the people.
Among those who have signed the bill include human rights PUCL general secretary Gautam Thaker, MSD’s Dwarikanath Rath, economists Rohit Shukla and Hemantkumar Shah, Jesuit human rights activist Father Cedric Prakash, columnist and film maker Manishi Jani, journalists Rathin Das and Rafat Quadri, apart from large number of social activists.

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