Rajesh B. Nair

PUDUCHERRY: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has asked for clarification from the Law Department on the inclusion of provision to act upon bootleggers in the Goondas Act.

The Ministry has asked the department to give its response on the need to include provision to arrest bootleggers under the Goondas Act when the Excise Act provided stringent measures to act against bootleggers.

“We have in turn sought the Revenue Department's observation on the Ministry's comment. Once we get a response from them, we will forward it to the Ministry, a senior government official told The Hindu.

The Puducherry Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Bill, which was introduced in the Legislative Assembly on October 20, 2008, has included bootleggers among those who can be detained as a preventive measure. The Bill was passed in August 2009 and subsequently sent to the Ministry for getting the President's assent.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons mentioned in the Bill said “the preventive detention laws enforced in the Union Territory at present are the National Security Act, 1980, the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 and the Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980.”

It further said “these enactments are not sufficient and effective to control anti-social activities of bootleggers, persons who habitually commit or abet the commission of offences affecting human body and against property and of criminal intimidation, etc, drug offender, forest offenders, gamblers, goondas, immoral traffic offenders and property grabber.”

With six months already gone after passage of the Bill, the territorial police believe implementation of the Act would be further delayed. A section of officers doubted whether certain amendments have to be brought in the wake of the Ministry seeking clarification.

Officials in the Law Department said they did not see any issue in implementing the Act once the President gives her assent. “It can be implemented and amendments based on the Ministry observation can be introduced in the Assembly afterwards,” they said.