The Gujarat government on Tuesday reintroduced a controversial anti-terror Bill that critics say could become as draconian as the now-repealed POTA.
The criticism of the proposed Bill had prompted President Pratibha Patil —whose consent for the same is mandatory —last month to send the Bill back with changes.
But the government of Chief Minister Narendra Modi chose not to make those changes in an apparent bid to score political points.
Presenting the resolution on Tuesday, Gujarat Minister of State for Home Amit Shah said the changes that the President sought dilute its efficacy.
“If we include the President’s suggestions, the GUJCOC Bill will become just another Indian Penal Code which is no good for Gujarat, which shares its land and sea borders with neighbouring Pakistan,” Shah said.
Apart from deletion of Clause 16 of the Bill which says a confession made by a person before a police officer shall be admissible in the trial, the President also sought an amendment in a clause that states that a court cannot grant bail to an accused if the public prosecutor opposes it.
By taking the Centre on, Modi is sending out a signal that the UPA government is soft-pedalling on the need for a strong anti-terror law.
The impasse can continue endlessly, say constitutional experts. “The governor or the President are not bound to sign the Bill that a state assembly forwards for a second time,” said former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash Kashyap.
The Bill can keep going to and fro.
Death for hooch peddlers
The Modi government also introduced the Amendment bill to the Bombay Prohibition Act 1948 that calls for punishment upto death penalty in cases leading to deaths due to illegal hooch.
The amendment came after more than 130 people were allegedly killed after consuming illicit liquor in Ahmedabad earlier this month.