Skip to main content

Awaiting Presidential nod, Gujarat anti-terror bill "qualifies" anti-govt protests as an act of terrorism

By Our Representative
Gujarat's two senior human rights activists have said that the Gujarat Control of Terror and Organised Crime (GUJTOC) Bill, 2015, currently awaiting the President’s assent, on paper seeks to curb organised crime and terrorism, but, in practice, will prove to be a “no-holds-barred attack on free speech.” In fact, they believe, thanks to its vague language, it will be a “codified a means for police intimidation” to quash any opposition to governmental decisions, terming them “terrorist.”
Alleging that it will be used particularly against the minority communities like Prevention of Terrorist Act (POTA) and Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA, both of whom were repealed following uproar, the activists say, it is well known how POTA, “in its short life of a little over two years, was the legal means to register 287 cases in Gujarat – all against Muslims, barring one; a similar pattern was observed with TADA.”
The activists – Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah – in an article in the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) “Bulletin” – have said, “the most worrisome aspect” of GUJTOC is that it “makes no distinction between acts of terrorism, criminal activity and legitimate protest against the government anti-people policies.”
Giving details of the “draconian” provisions of the Bill, they say, “It defines 'terrorist act' as 'intention to disturb law and order, or public order, or to threaten the unity, integrity…', adding, sections 2(1)(d), (e), and (f), in effect, term any opposition to the government's efforts to amend or bring in laws related to labour, environment, land acquisition would be “construed as an actual act of terrorism, and a concerned citizen expressing dissent can be prosecuted.”
Sections 5 “introduces the provision of the special court "taking cognisance of any offence without the accused being committed to it for trial" on the basis of a mere police report, and section 14 allows evidence collected through the "interception of wire, electronic or oral communication” admissible in the court against accused, activists say.
“Section 16 allows a confession that was recorded before a police official of Superintendent of Police rank to be admissible in a trial against the accused or any of the other accused in a case”, the activists says, adding, this virtually “overrides” Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Sections 25 and 26 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, which specifically prohibit the use of statements made to police officers in evidence.
A provision in section 17, the activists say, “empowers the special courts to hold the trial in-camera and take any measures necessary for concealing the identity and address of the witnesses”, and “allows court to make a decision that 'it is in the public interest to order that all or any of the proceedings pending before such a Court shall not be published in any manner'.”
“In an attempt to gag any reporting on trial proceedings, the law imposes a punishment of Rs 1 lakh along with a one-year prison sentence. This gag order by the court will penalize the few journalists who follow the cases in court, while leaving the initial frenzy of police stories untouched. Not to mention, snuffing out public scrutiny of the government's case.”, the activists underline.
Giving other details, activists say, Clause 20 (3) “removes the option of anticipatory bail”, and clause 20 (4) provides for “extremely restrictive conditions regarding bail, almost mandating the acquiescence of the public prosecutor”, and Clause 20 (5) “denies bail even if the accused had been released on bail in an offence under any other law on the date of the offence.”
Then there is Section 22 which “shifts the burden of proof from the prosecution to the accused in certain circumstances. In doing so, it dispenses with the presumption of innocence of the accused and breaks the 'golden thread' of criminal jurisprudence, requiring the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt”, the activists say.
Further, there is Section 25which grants “ complete immunity to all state functionaries for any action taken under the provisions of the Bill”, which effect means “impunity to police officers for torture and extra-judicial methods employed in criminal investigations, under the garb of anti-terror operations”.

Comments

TRENDING

Nobel laureates join international figures, seek release of Bhima Koregaon accused activists

Nobel laureates Olga Tokarczuk,  Wole Soyinka Counterview Desk  As many as 57 top international personalities, including Nobel laureates, academics, human rights defenders, lawyers cultural personalities, and members of Parliament of European countries, have urged the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India to ensure immediate release of human rights defenders in India “into safe conditions”.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Russia, China to call the shots in Middle East, as Muslim nations turn into house of cards

By Haider Abbas* Only a naive would buy that the ‘situation of ceasefire’ between the State of Israel and Hamas would continue, as if the foiled attempt to demolish Al Aqsa this time, is not be repeated, if not in any near future then in sometime to come. Israel already has spurned the ‘ceasefire’ by storming Al Aqsa after the Friday prayers on May 21.

Collapse of healthcare system? Why 90% of Covid patients treated at home survived

By Bobby Ramakant, Sandeep Pandey* Well known Hindustani classical singer Padma Vibhu shan Channulal Mishra, chosen as one of the proposers of Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha elections, lost his wife and elder daughter to Covid in private hospitals in Varanasi. Younger daughter has accused Medwin Hospital of charging Rs 1.5 lakh for treatement of her sister and not being able to explain the cause of death. Pandit Channulal Mishra has asked for a probe into his daughter’s death from the Chief Minister. The family has also asked for the CCTV footage of the ward where deceased daughter was admitted for a week.

Modi-led regime 'contributed' 60% to rise of global poverty, yet Hindutva is intact

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* In recent years, the Hindutva politics has caused long term damage to India and Indians. The so called 56-inch macho PM, the propaganda master manufactures and survives all political crisis including the current mismanagement of the Coronavirus pandemic in India. In spite of deaths and destitutions, the social, cultural, economic and religious base of Hindutva is intact.

Rooted in mistrust? Covid-19’s march into rural India is a very different ball game

By Sudhir Katiyar* As the Covid-19 virus penetrates rural India, the rural communities are responding very differently from their urban counterparts who rushed to the hospitals. The rural communities are avoiding the public health facilities and any mention of the disease. The note argues that this supposedly irrational response is based on a deep-seated mistrust of the state by the rural communities. It can not be resolved with routine Information, Education and Communication (IEC) measures suggested in the Government of India SOP for tackling Covid-19 in rural areas.

Hunger, lack of food security behind India's 'slip' in UN's sustainable development rank

By Dr Gian Singh*  According to a report released by the United Nations on June 6, 2021, India's ranking of achieving Sustainable Development based on the 17 Social Development Goals (SDGs) set by the 193 countries in the 2003 agenda, which was 115th last year, has slipped to 117th position this year. India ranks not only the lowest among the BRICS countries -- Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa but also below the four South Asian countries -- Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Courageous, in-depth attempt to confirm common spiritual values of Christ, Buddha

By RB Sreekumar, IPS*  All religions, both theistic and atheistic designed conceptual and practical architecture, for holistic and comprehensive elevation and enlightenment of humanity. PK Vijayan, in his novel “Nirvana of Jesus Christ” (Notion Press, 2020) through creative imagination portrayed personality evolution of the two progenitors of God-centric and sagaciously logical major religions – Jesus Christ of Christianity and Gautama Buddha of Buddhism.

Why hasn't Govt of India responded to US critique of freedom of religion under Modi?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* About two weeks ago, on May 12, 2021, the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken released in Washington the ‘2020 International Religious Freedom Report.’ This official annual report of the US Government details the status of religious freedom in nearly 200 foreign countries and territories and describes US actions to support religious freedom worldwide. Mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, this report highlights the fact that ‘religious freedom is both a core American value and a universal human right’.