Manas Dasgupta

Amendments will make the exercise ineffective: Gujarat

Similar Act exists in Congress-ruled Maharashtra is State’s argument

AHMEDABAD: Adopting a confrontationist attitude, the Gujarat government has decided to re-adopt the State bill against organised crime without any change and send it back to the Centre for Presidential assent.

The decision for the re-enactment of the unchanged “Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Bill” was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet. It decided to move the bill for adoption in its present form during the current session of the Assembly on July 28.

Cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said the State government was of the opinion that the amendments to the bill as suggested by the Centre on June 19 would make it ineffective to deal with terror attacks for which it was primarily enacted.

“Not acceptable”

“The Centre wants the bill to be without teeth and nails and [this] is not acceptable to the State,” he said.

Mr. Vyas said the Centre had returned the bill three times and every time with suggestions to make more amendments. In its present form it was in conformity with the recommendations made by the Centre and did not require any further change, he said.

Soon after the UPA government began its second innings after the Lok Sabha elections, it decided to send the bill back to the State with an advisory to carry out a few amendments only after which it was agreeable to recommend approval to the President.

Among the Centre’s recommendations was to make as “inadmissible” the provision that says that any confession made before a police officer would be “admissible” in court. The Centre also wanted the State to change the provision which took away the right of the courts to grant bail to any accused if opposed by the public prosecutor. The bill, the Centre suggested, should restore the powers of the courts to grant bail even if opposed by the public prosecutor. It also wanted the State to amend certain provisions of section 20(2) of the bill.

Prestige issue

The passage of the bill had become a prestige issue for the Narendra Modi government which claimed a similar one and with the same provisions existed as an Act in Congress-ruled Maharashtra and wondered why the Centre was unwilling to allow the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled State to have one. The State government insisted that the existing Central acts were not strong enough to deal with terror attacks after the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).

Another effort

Soon after the Centre returned the bill last month, Mr. Modi had made it clear that the amendments suggested were not acceptable to the State and the ruling party would make yet another effort to get it enacted in its present form.

The bill was earlier passed twice by the Assembly in the absence of the entire Congress Opposition.

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