Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organized Crime (GCTOC) Sent Back Again
Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organized Crime (GCTOC) Bill, 2015 came in news again recently after it was sent back by President Pranab Mukherjee, seeking clarifications on some of it’s provisions. The Bill has been in controversies and debates ever since it’s inception.
GCTOC was earlier passed by the Gujarat Assembly on March 31, 2015. Interestingly, the Assembly retained the controversial provisions that were earlier rejected by the President. The Bill was first introduced in 2003 by the then Modi Government in Gujarat.
The Ministry has replied that it will soon submit a re-worked Bill for the approval of the President.
What are the Objection?
- IT Ministry had earlier objected that the Bill allowed authorisation of interception of telephone conversations and their admissibility as evidence before a court of law. But the Gujarat Government argued that these subjects fall in the concurrent list, on which both Central and State government has jurisdiction.
- The Bill also retains the admissibility of confessions before an investigating officer.
- The Bill also retains the clause that allows for 180 days for filing of a chargesheet in a case. This clause has come into controversy as earlier provision provides for only 90 days.
- It is feared that this Bill will bring on the tyranny of the Police and create a havoc in the law and order situation. The Bill has raised many questions of accountability and transparency.
- The Bill puts many of the crimes under the ‘non-bailable’ category. Many of the features of the Bill are akin to the erstwhile TADA and POTA laws.
- Many activists have raised questions over the Right to Privacy of the individual as this law allows the public authorities to intercept the telephone calls.
- There are also concerns about the Section 25 of the Bill that makes the government immune from any legal action for ‘anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done in pursuance of this Act’.
Timeline of the Bill
- 2003: GUJCOC Bill originally Incepted by Modi Government of Gujarat. It was drafted on the lines of Maharashtra’s MCOCA.
- 2004: President A P J Abdul Kalam reject the Bill with a suggestion that the clause relating to interception of communication be removed.
- 2008: Gujarat State Assembly passed the Bill again twice. Deleted the interception clause.
- 2009: President Pratibha Patil refused to clear the Bill, and sought more changes, including deletion of the provision allowing confession before a police officer as an evidence in court.
- 2009: Gujarat Government ignored the suggestions and cleared the Bill again (Third time).
- The GCTOC Bill 2015 reintroduced the provision allowing interception of communication and for confessions made before a police officer.
Further developments in this context would be interesting to note.
Team Aspirant Forum