The Bill to prevent the activities of anti-social elements will take almost a year for the government to implement the provisions, says Rajesh B. Nair

Though the Bill to prevent the activities of anti-social elements has been introduced in the recently concluded one-day session of the Assembly, it will take almost a year for the government to implement the provisions. The next Assembly, likely to be the budget session, would take up the Puducherry Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Bill, 2008 for discussion before it can be passed.

Once the Assembly passed the bill, the Lieutenant Governor has to forward it to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for getting the Presidential approval. “It will take at least eight to 12 months for the process to be completed,” a senior Home Department official said. The Legislation would cover Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam regions of the Union Territory.

The Bill has enough provision to deal with the anti-social activities of bootleggers, dangerous persons, drug offenders, gamblers, goondas, immoral traffic offenders, forest offenders and property grabbers which “affect adversely or likely to affect adversely the maintenance of public order.”

As per the provisions of the bill, a copy of which is available with The Hindu, a person involved in such activities can be detained for a year after due process. A proposal to detain such persons had to come first from the Police Department suggesting the reasons to the government for starting the process.

The government has to constitute an Advisory Board headed by a Chairman “who is or had been a Judge of High Court and two other members who are or have been District Judges qualified under the Constitution to be appointed as a Judge of High Court.” All the cases have to be referred to the Advisory Board within three weeks of the detention and the Bill provided opportunity for the person detained to present his representation to the board.

The Advisory Board after hearing both sides would submit the report to the government within seven weeks from the date of detention. If there was a difference of opinion within the board on the outcome, it would go by the majority views. The Board’s report whether to continue with the detention or the person has to be let free was binding on the government. The maximum period for which a person can be detained is for a period of one year, as per the provisions of the bill.

Authoritative sources said the government could bring in certain amendments including the provision to deal with unauthorised structures.

The preventive detention laws enforced in the Union Territory at present were 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.