Punjab CM directs expediting of draft PCOCA legislation
Likely to be brought this month; to give police more teeth to tackle criminals, gangsters and radical forces.punjab Updated: Nov 03, 2017 20:28 IST
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has directed the cabinet sub-committee headed by health and family welfare minister Brahm Mohindra to expedite drafting of the legislation on the Punjab Control of Organised Crime Act (PCOCA) to crack down on the menace of organised crime and gangsters in the state.
The directive was issued at Thursday’s law and order review meeting. The chief minister’s instructions came after director general of police (DGP) Suresh Arora raised the issue of giving more teeth to the police to tackle organised crime in the state.
The CM, who was in Patiala on Friday, told reporters that the draft PCOCA legislation to arm police with more teeth to tackle criminals, gangsters and radical forces was in the process of finalisation and the new law would soon be enacted to control the spread of crime and hatred in the state.
He also agreed that it was important to instil the fear of the law into the gangsters to check their attempts to create lawlessness and trouble in the state. The proposed legislation would ensure that the police are not obstructed in dealing with such gangsters with an iron hand, according to an official release. Though the proposed law would provide wide powers to police to take any action, as needed, to control gangsters and criminal gangs operating in the state, it would have sufficient checks and balances to prevent misuse, the spokesperson said.
PCOCA was the brainchild of former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, who was also holding charge of home minister during the Akali-BJP regime. However, the cabinet struck down the planned legislation fearing its misuse and he sent it back to the state’s advocate general for revision. The Congress government had, soon after taking over earlier this year, revived the proposal to introduce PCOCA in view of the large number of organised gangs operating in the state and a spate of recent incidents of jailbreaks and violent clashes in prisons.
What is PCOCA?
Modelled on the controversial Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), the proposed law is said to be the brainchild of Punjab DGP Suresh Arora to tackle organised crime, especially committed by gangsters. It was originally proposed in September 2016 under the SAD-BJP regime.
Why Punjab needs PCOCA?
While pushing forward the proposed law, the police had claimed that since 2012 not a single gangster in the state was convicted and all 55 cases ended in acquittals because witnesses turned hostile in the court fearing gangsters. Out of 105 gangsters arrested between 1996 and 2016, only 10 were convicted.
Why the previous government did not pass the law?
The original draft of the law says that a statement given before an SP-rank officer will be admissible in the court. When the draft was tabled before the SAD-BJP cabinet, apprehensions were raised by senior ministers about the possibility of misuse of the law.
What are salient features of the law?
All electronic evidence, including secret recordings of phone calls, gathered by the police will also be proof. Proceedings can be held in camera, away from the public eye. The names of the witnesses can be kept secret. Special courts will be set up for speedy trials. If an accused commits a crime while on bail, he will not be able to apply for bail after that. Police can seek remand of the accused again even while he is in jail or judicial custody. A crime in which more than two persons are involved would be considered fit for PCOCA.
Which states already have PACOCA-like law?
Maharashtra, Karnataka, Bihar, Delhi, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are the states where this kind of Act exists to deal with the organised crime.