Gujarat Govt passes disputed anti-terror bill

RSTV Bureau

anandi_benGujarat Legislative Assembly on Tuesday passed Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill.

The Bill which was previously called as Gujarat Control of Organised Crime bill has been rejected three times, including twice by the two Presidents. It was rejected first by the then President APJ Abdul Kalam, followed by another former President Pratibha Patil and third time by the former state Governor Kamla Beniwal.

The ruling BJP pushed for the bill fourth time calling it an important law to deal with both the terror and organised crime. “The law is the need of the hour…not just terrorism but even organised crime needs to be dealt with firmly,” said Gujarat’s junior Home Minister Rajni Patel.

On the other hand opposing Bill on the floor of the Assembly, Congress party is refuting with the government. “Despite reservations from past Presidents, no changes have been made. The government has just changed the nomenclature and the content remains same,” countered Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil.

The Bill has been mired in controversies with political opposition, activists and law experts terming it ‘draconian’. Their fear is that the provisions listed in the Bill may encourage misuse by the law enforcing agencies apart from human rights violations.

Some of its provisions like confessions before the police to be made admissible as court evidence increase in the period of police remand without any charges from 15 days to 30 days and giving the state prosecutor liberty to recommend extending the period of filing charge sheet against the accused to 180 days from an existing deadline of 90 days.

The Bill was first passed in the Gujarat legislative Assembly by Narendra Modi led-BJP government in the year 2004. However, the bill was sent back by then Vajpayee-led central government when the President APJ Kalam had returned it seeking major changes in the Bill.

Later the Congress led-UPA government too returned the bill as the President Pratibha Patil had refused to give bill a nod.