New Delhi(PTI): Congress on Saturday made a strong plea to President Pranab Mukherjeee not to give his nod to a controversial anti-terror law passed by Gujarat Assembly, a measure which has failed to get Presidential assent thrice.
A delegation of party leaders from the state, including Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress President, Gujarat PCC Chief Bharatsinh Solanki and state Opposition leader Shankersinh Vaghela as also all party MLAs, met the President to plead against the bill. The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill, 2015 which was passed by the Assembly, has been approved by the Governor and it has been sent to the Centre for further approval from union Home Ministry and the President of India.
The delegation submitted a memorandum to the President on the contentious measure with party spokesman Shaktisinh Gohil alleging that the BJP was playing politics through the measure. An assent to the measure was fraught with dangerous consequences for the opposition in Gujarat, the President was told.
The bill was first introduced as the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Bill (GUJCOC) in 2003 by then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The rechristened legislation retaining provisions like empowering police to tap telephonic conversations and submit them in court as evidence was passed by the state Assembly on March 31. The Bill makes confessions made before the police admissible in court and empowers law enforcing authorities to intercept and record phone calls as evidence. It also provides for extension of the period of investigation from stipulated 90 days to 180 days.
Further, it makes offences under the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Act, 2015, a non-bailable offence. The Bill puts the onus of proving his/her innocence on the accused. The Anandiben Patel government has been pitching for the law contending that the present Acts have limitations to deal with organised crime and terror activities.
The original GUJCOC bill, which was on the lines of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), was rejected in 2004 and 2008 by the then President A P J Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil respectively who had suggested some amendments in the provisions related to telephone interception and confession made before police officer being considered as evidence in court.
It was passed once again by the state assembly in 2009 and was awaiting the approval of President. The new bill has provision of jail term of five years and maximum punishment of death penalty and fine ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.