Skip to main content

Proposed legislation suspends all civil rights, gives police unbridled powers to arrest anyone ‘on suspicion’


By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
The Government of Gujarat continues to be on the offensive. Unable to deal with growing unrests and protests on several fronts, it has decided to unleash another draconian law called the Gujarat Protection of Internal Security Act (GPISA). Apparently, a draft is now ready and the Bill is expected to be tabled in the State Assembly at the next budget session.
The provisions of the forthcoming law are draconian on several counts; they negate the fundamental rights of citizens and go against the grain and spirit of the Constitution of India!
The proposals include that:
  • the Government can take action against caste groups, communities promoting ‘sectarian interests’
  • all offences under the new law will be non-bailable.
  • people can be arrested merely on suspicion of being a ‘threat to internal security.’ 
  • no legal proceedings against security agencies can be initiated for action taken ‘in ‘good faith.’ 
  • both public and private establishments can be put under electronic surveillance.
  • the Government can create security zones with special policing powers.
In short, the proposed legislation literally suspends all civil rights and gives the police unbridled powers to arrest anyone ‘on suspicion’. Defending the indefensible, an Official from the Home Department of the Gujarat Government recently said, “The bill will deal with internal security challenges posed by terrorism, insurgency, communalism and caste violence”.
This is all very ironic, since those responsible for such acts since 2002 in Gujarat now occupy high positions of power and privilege in the country and are cloaked with apparent immunity.
This is not the first time that the Gujarat Government has attempted to pass such a law. In 2003, when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister, the State Assembly had passed the terrible ‘Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GujCoTOC) bill. Strangely enough it was, the Vajpayee government that sent it back in 2004 asking for major changes to be made.
The Bill was passed later thrice by the State Assembly. Two Presidents, APJ Abdul Kalam (2004) and Pratibha Patil (2008), sent it back to the State Government without giving their assent. In September 2015, the Central Government under PM Modi cleared another version of the GujCoTOC. President Pranab Mukherjee’s approval did not seem forthcoming; finally, at the end of January 2016, the Union Home Ministry withdrew this controversial anti-terror Bill.
Draconian laws are not new to Modi and his ilk. In March 2003, as the CM of Gujarat he also introduced the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, which makes it mandatory for permission from the civil authority before one can embrace another religion. In spite of his tall claims of ‘religious freedom’ in India, he has not withdrawn this anti-Constitutional law to date.
It is evidently clear that GPISA is designed to stifle dissent, to choke human rights defenders and anyone else who demand their legitimate and democratic rights. From the Gujarat carnage of 2002 Gujarat is on the boil: every effort has been made to crush the minorities; land and livelihood has been snatched from the poor and the marginalized – be it the small farmers or the ordinary fishermen.
Big corporations have profited immensely from this injustice. The patidars, the dalits, the safai karmacharis, the adivasis have all been on the receiving end in Gujarat.
The voices of protest and dissent in Gujarat and elsewhere cannot be silenced; those who take a stand for truth and for justice- can never be muted. The GPISA cannot be tabled in whatever form.
Attempts by the Government to defocus from the plight of the people is bound to have disastrous consequences. It is hoped that sanity and good sense prevails. Beginning with Gujarat, we cannot allow India to become another police or rogue state, as is happening in other countries around us!
We, the people of India, need to awake, now! We need to protest the GPISA!
---
*Well-known human rights activist. Contact: cedricprakash@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.