Gandhinagar: Over a decade and half after the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha passed the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill, President Ram Nath Kovind has now given his assent turning it into an Act.
One of the key features of the new Act is intercepted telephonic conversations would now be considered as a legitimate evidence.
The Bill drawn on the lines of the Maharashtra Control of organized Crime Act ,1999(MCOCA) was passed by the Gujarat Assembly in 2003 when Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the state. The 2002 communal riots that followed the Godhra train carnage and the alleged targeting of BJP leaders by Pakistan backed terror groups formed the backdrop for the initiation of the Bill.
However the Bill did not find favour with atleast two Presidents, APJ Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil who returned it citing lacunae in it.
During it’s second term ,the Modi government in the state re-adopted the bill with minor changes without much addressing the concerns of the centre and re-sent the bill for presidential assent. The union government with Modi as the prime minister finally approved the draft of the bill in 2015 but the then president Pranab Mukherjee kept the measure pending which finally received the necessary nod from Kovind, the minister of state for home Pradipsinh Jadeja announced on Tuesday.
The bill, has drawn the ire of opposition parties and human rights activists opposed terming it as draconian since it vests the police with unbridled powers to arrest anyone even on mere suspicion of being involved in terror acts or organised crime including kidnapping and demanding ransom and provide for life imprisonment or death sentence.