The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is planning to invoke the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against Amit Kumar, the alleged kingpin of illegal transplant racket.
"The multi-million kidney racket has all the aspects to qualify as an organised crime. Amit Kumar alias Santosh Rameshwar Raut's strong network of touts spread in several states and financial ramifications of the racket bring the crime under the category of an organised crime," a senior CBI official associated with the probe told IANS on Friday.
If the agency invokes MCOCA, which is more stringent then the Indian Penal Code, it will be more difficult for the suspect to get bail. Moreover, Amit Kumar's associates will find their alleged criminal liability increased.
Invoking MCOCA will empower the investigating agency to proceed against any member of the organised crime syndicate and those who in any way extended logistical support or shelter to any of their associates.
The penal provisions of this law are very stringent, but it has to be proved beyond doubt that the culprits were running an organised syndicate.
The MCOCA defined organised crime as any continuing unlawful activity by an individual, singly or jointly, either as a member of an organised crime syndicate or on behalf of such syndicate, by use of violence or threat of violence or intimidation or coercion, or other unlawful means, with the objective of gaining pecuniary benefits, or gaining undue economic or other advantage for himself or any person.
Investigations have revealed that at the heart of the illegal kidney transplant racket was Amit Kumar, who allegedly carried out hundreds of kidney transplants along with fellow doctors that included his brother Jeewan Raut, and cashed in on the huge demand-supply gap for this vital organ.
"The modus operandi is important in cases of organised crime. In this case, using persuasion, trickery and threats, occasionally at gunpoint, they forced poor patients as well as labourers to part with one of their kidneys for a pittance, which was then sold to wealthy clients from India and abroad at huge profits," the official said.
The ring that served clients from Britain, the US, Greece, Lebanon, Canada, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates among other countries was busted by the police forces of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh Jan 24 in Gurgaon, a township adjacent to New Delhi.
Amit Kumar is also accused of having funnelled part of his profits to Canada, where his family lives.
Criminal lawyer RK Naseem said: "The invoking of MCOCA would be difficult as the CBI will have to prove that crimes of similar nature were committed in a series by culprits for the sole purpose of illegal wealth accumulation. Once it is proved that criminals were operating as a gang, it has to also establish that they had generated illegal wealth."
The CBI has currently registered two cases against Amit Kumar, his brother Jeewan Raut, Delhi-based doctor Saraj and Upendra Aggarwal under sections 420 (cheating), 506 (criminal intimidation), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.