Skip to main content

Following wide protests, Bill proposing sweeping surveillance powers to state, cops in Maharashtra withdrawn

By Our Representative
Following wide protests and public pressure, including by two civil rights organizations, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and Police Reforms Watch (PRW),  a new internal security law in Maharashtra – Protection of Internal Security Bill 2016, seeking to give sweeping powers to executive and police over private spaces - has been withdrawn.
In a statement, the two organizations had said, “We are particularly concerned with the wide scope of the Bill, created purportedly to deal with multiple security challenges.” It adds, “The omnibus Bill tries to deal with challenges of 'terrorism, insurgency, communalism, caste violence, etc.' all in one legislation and does not differentiate between the nature of threats from each.”
The Bill had proposed up to five years imprisonment for merely showing cops in poor light, even as internal security as a situation “posing threat to state within its borders, either caused or provoked, prompted, or proxied by a hostile foreign power, perpetrated even by such groups that use a failed, failing or weak hostile foreign power, causing insurgency, terrorism or any other subversive act targeting innocent citizens, causing animosity between groups, violence, destroy, or attempt to destroy public and private establishments.”
Pointing out that “laws are already in place to deal with many of these matters”, the NGOs had said, “In order to bring every kind of threat under one law, the Bill relies on dangerously vague catch-all definitions, which are totally insufficient to further justify criminalisation or prohibition.”
Apprehending that the Bill would “abuse of power”, Maja Daruwala, director, CHRI, had stated, “The draft Bill is ill-considered both in its intent and content. Every citizen should be alarmed at the sweep of laws like this which are designed for abuse.”
He added, “The greatest security the state can provide to all of us is to make sure we have an honest efficient and law upholding police and a court system geared to give us speedy and fair justice. Certainly more and more laws only go to muddying the waters and reducing people’s power to face up to oppression.”
Objections were raised to the draft Bill's provision, which makes it compulsory for all public spaces – whether publicly or privately owned – to have CCTV surveillance and security arrangements, which would be mandated by the police. The public spaces are proposed to be routinely audited for their security arrangements.
“The detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the security audit will be framed by the MSSC (Maharashtra State Security Council) in consultation with the parties concerned. These SOPs will be revised periodically,” the Bill read.
The Bill wasreleased into the public domain ahead of the next Assembly session, and the state government had claimed, it provided an “opportunity” for an exhaustive debate to discuss the necessity of any new law as well as the state of policing and security in Maharashtra.
The Bill proposed to set up of Special Security Zones (SSZs), where movement of arms, explosives and inflow of unaccounted funds will be prohibited, with special focus on nuclear reactors, dams, major projects, coastal areas under its ambit.
With a provision for a jail term of up to three years and fine for those threatening the state’s security, the Bill says, SSZs would have a separate police infrastructure. The zones would also have a command and control system, and a separate Standard Operating Procedure (SoP), to be followed by the SSZ police.
First of its kind in India, the Bill wanted that the police chief should have powers to ban or regulate the “production, sale, storage, possession, or entry of any devices or equipment or poisonous chemical, biological or radioactive article or substances, or electronic content of potentially explosive nature or any inflow of funds.”

Comments

TRENDING

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”