The Narendra Modi government has sent Gujarat’s controversial anti-terror legislation — the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill — back to the state government after President Pranab Mukherjee kept it pending for nearly four months.
The GCTOC Bill cleared last year was patterned on the anti-terror law Modi first piloted through the assembly in 2003. But the Rashtrapati Bhavan rejected the bill on two occasions, the first in 2004. As CM, Modi often called the then Congress-led central government’s refusal to clear the bill a reflection of its feeble resolve to fight terrorism.
Government sources told HT that the home ministry sent the bill to the President for his assent last year. But the Rashtrapati Bhavan is learnt to have had reservations and decided to hold back its approval, quite the same way as presidents in the past sat on home ministry recommendations to reject mercy pleas. A government official said the Centre saw the writing on the wall, withdrew the bill from the President and sent it to the Gujarat government with some queries.
In July last year, the Centre sought clarifications from the state on certain issues raised by the ministry of information and technology. “The home ministry will provide additional information about the bill to the President after obtaining the same from the Gujarat government,” a home ministry spokesman said.
Officials said it was a euphemism for telling the state to amend the bill to make it palatable to the Centre. “We have learnt that the home ministry has withdrawn the bill from the President’s office. What are the clarifications sought by the President is not known yet. The Gujarat government will act accordingly once it will get the documents from the MHA,’’ Gujarat BJP vice-president IK Jadeja said.
The Congress said introducing the bill was vote bank politics. “The BJP knew that some clauses were in contradiction with the Constitution as well as national law. There was no possibility it would get clearance,” Congress national spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said.