Gujarat Anti-Terror Bill Passed Finally

  • Gujarat Assembly on Tuesday passed the landmark Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organized Crime Bill 2015.
  • The new Bill is a re-worked version of the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Bill (GUJCOC), 2003, which was earlier rejected twice by the President due to some of its contentious provisions.
  • Minister of State Home, raised concerns over Pakistan’s attempts at cross-border terrorism, Gujarat’s vulnerable coastline and the proliferation of criminal gangs, while underscoring the need for a strong law.
  • Among the controversial provisions of the Bill is Clause 16, which makes confessions before police officers admissible in court.
  • GUJCOC was respectively returned twice to the State legislature in 2004 and 2008 by then Presidents A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil.
  • The draconian provisions of the Bill include Clause 16 that stipulates that “a confession made by a person before a police officer not below the rank of Superintendent of Police…shall be admissible in the trial of such accused, co-accused, abettor or conspirator.”
  • The Bill also provides for extension of the period of investigation from the stipulated 90 days to 180 days.
  • Furthermore, the legislation makes offenses under the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organized Crime Act, 2015, non-bailable. Clause 20 (4) of the Bill states, “Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, no person accused of an offense punishable under this Act shall, if in custody, be released on bail or on his own bond.”
  • The Bill makes “evidence collected through the interception of wire, electronic or oral communication” admissible in the court.
  • It provides immunity to the State government from legal action.
  • Clause 25 of the Bill states, “No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall lie against the State government or any officer or authority of the State government for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done in pursuance of this Act.”
  • President Kalam had returned the Bill recommending the deletion of the clauses pertaining to confession in police custody, tapping phone and online communication, period of investigation and non-grant of bail.