Terrorism and the law: India
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Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GUJCTOC) Act
Sixteen years after the Gujarat assembly passed the controversial anti-terror legislation which was popularly known as GUJCOCA or the Gujarat Control of Organized Crime Act, the law was finally ratified by President Ramnath Kovind.
Known as Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GUJCTOC) Act in its news avatar, the law gives extensive powers to the state police to counter terror and organised crime. A confession made before a police official of the rank of SP and above will now be admissible in court as evidence. So far, only confessions made before a magistrate were admissible as evidence.
GUJCOCA was returned thrice earlier by various Presidents and was last amended in 2015. Gujarat junior home minister Pradipsinh Jadeja said GUJCTOC Act will help break the back of terrorism. “The Act was envisioned by the then Gujarat CM and current PM Narendra Modi to fight terrorism and organised crime like Ponzi schemes,” said Jadeja, adding that the state government has enforced the strong law against disruptive elements in the state which has a 1,600-kmlong coastline. Elaborating on the Act’s salient features, Jadeja said: “A positive provision of this law is that electronic intercepts, including oral communication, will be admissible as evidence in courts.”
Significantly, GUJCTOC Act provides immunity to the state government and its officers from legal action in the form of a suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings for an action that is “done or intended to be done in good faith in pursuance of the Act”.
Under the new law, cops get up to 180 days instead of the stipulated 90 days to file a chargesheet. The accused will not be granted bail until the public prosecutor has got a chance to oppose the bail application. Also, authorities are empowered to confiscate unaccounted properties of the accused. Besides, a witness will get special protection under this Act, Jadeja said.
Congress, which opposed GUJCOCA from its inception calling in ‘Draconian’, said the law will to be a “major threat” to the privacy of citizens.