Amid fears that President Pranab Mukherjee might not give his assent to the controversial anti-terror Bill of Gujarat in its present form, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recalled the measure and decided to “rework it with additional inputs from the State government.”
Though a Home Ministry spokesperson said the Bill was called back from the President’s office by the MHA, an official close to Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s office said it was done so at the behest of the State government.
When contacted by The Hindu , Gujarat government spokesperson and Cabinet Minister Nitin Patel said: “I am not aware of the return of the Bill.”
“Though we sent the Bill to the President in September, he did not sign it,” said a Home Ministry official.
Showing alacrity, the MHA had sent the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill (GCTOC), 2015, cleared by the Assembly in March the same year, for the President’s approval in the second week of September. Mr. Mukherjee had been sitting on the Bill since then. The Bill was first moved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2003 when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Earlier in July the same year, the MHA watered down the Bill after objections from the Ministry of Information and Technology and prevailed over the Gujarat government’s suggestion to let the State Home Secretary be the final authority on phone-tapping requests.
The MHA said the State could not have “absolute powers” and such decisions and clearances will only be processed by the Union Home Secretary.