Controversial anti-terror bill gets nod in Gujarat

gujaratparliamnetAHMEDABAD: The Gujarat assembly on Tuesday passed a controversial anti-terror bill which was previously sent back by two presidents.

The amended Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill (GCTOC) allows a confession before a police officer to be admissible as evidence in court.

Human rights activists fear such a provision would enable police to torture or coerce suspects into making confessions which will be used against them in a court of law.

The stringent bill also doubles the period a suspect can be kept in custody from 15 days to 30 days and gives the police 180 days instead of 90 to file a chargesheet if a public prosecutor allows it. Both these provisions could lead to harassment of suspects.

“Adequate checks and balances have been made to see that the police do not misuse the provisions of the new law,” minister of state for home, Rajni Patel told the assembly.

The checks and balances which the government is referring to include forensic examination of video recordings of confessional statements.

The home department will also set up a committee to examine whether the confessions were made under duress. Prosecution powers under this law will be directly with the home department.

Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said the bill has many provisions similar to the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 ( POTA) which was later repealed after it was grossly abused.

The bill was the brainchild of Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.

Previous versions of the bill called the Gujarat Control of Organised Bill( GUJCOC) – on the lines of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) – were twice sent back by the President.

It was first rejected by APJ Abdul Kalam in 2004 when the central government under Atal Bihar Vajpayee asked for some changes.

Later it was also sent back by Pratibha Patil in 2008 during the time of the Manmohan Singh government. – From Hindustan Times

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