A full bench of the Bombay high court will examine if scope of stringent provisions under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) can be widened to cover crimes committed by organised criminal syndicates for motives other than pecuniary gains.
A division bench of justice BH Marlapalle and justice Abhay Thipsay, however, last week observed that meaning of the words “other advantage” couldn’t be limited to monetary gains. The bench has referred the matter to a full bench for examining if the term “other advantages” can be given a wider meaning so as to cover motives other than pecuniary gains.
Ever since its enactment in 1999, the courts have interpreted motive as stipulated in the stringent legislation to be limited to the extent of pecuniary or similar other gains. Section 2(e) of the Act defines “organised crime” as any continuing unlawful activity… with the objective of gaining pecuniary benefits, or gaining undue economic or other advantages for himself or any person or promoting insurgency.
“In cities such as Mumbai, crimes are being committed by organised crime syndicates even for gaining supremacy over rival gangs and not necessarily for pecuniary or such other limited motives,” the bench said.
The trigger for referring the matter to a full bench was the designated MCOCA court’s order revoking stringent provisions slapped against alleged killers of lawyer Shahid Azmi who was shot dead on February 11, 2010, at his office at Kurla.
The Mumbai police crime branch had invoked MCOCA against four persons — Devendra Jagtap, 30, alias JD, Pintu Dangle, 28, Vinod Vichare, 32, and Hasmukh Solanki, 25 — who were arrested in connection with the murder on the basis of Rs1 lakh allegedly paid to them by their gang leader Bharat Nepali.
The designated court said the definition of pecuniary gains takes into its swipe monetary gain flowing from outside the organised crime syndicate, and not the amounts that changed hands within gang members.