Uttar Pradesh assembly again passes bill to check organised crime
The UPCOCB had to be re-introduced in the assembly as it could not be passed in the Legislative Council, where the ruling BJP is in a minority, after being cleared by the Lower House earlier in December last year.lucknow Updated: Mar 28, 2018 11:59 IST
Amid a walkout by the opposition, the state legislative assembly passed the Uttar Pradesh Control of Organised Crime Bill (UPCOCB) on Tuesday for a second time. The bill aims to check organised crime and terror activities in the state and deal strictly with those trying to foment terror or dislodge the government forcibly or through violent means.
The UPCOCB had to be re-introduced in the assembly on Tuesday as it could not be passed in the Legislative Council, where the ruling BJP is in a minority, after being cleared by the Lower House earlier in December last year.
If the Legislative Council rejects the bill again or passes the bill with amendments not acceptable to the lower house or does not pass the bill within one month, then the bill will be deemed to have been passed by both the houses in the form in which it was passed by the lower house for the second time.
The proposed legislation is on the lines of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
Tabling the bill, chief minister Yogi Adityanath said there was a need for a stringent law to break the nexus of politicians, corrupt officers and the mafia.
He described as baseless the opposition’s apprehension that the new law might be misused to settle political scores.
Enough measures had been taken to check abuse of the new law, he said. To prevent possible misuse of the law, the bill says UPCOCA can be slapped only after recommendation of commissioner or IG-rank officials.
Organised crime had emerged as a widespread and serious threat to the society, he said, adding crime had no national boundaries.
The bill proposes that properties amassed through organised crime will be taken over by the government with the permission of the court during the course of investigation. The property will be confiscated by the state government after conviction.
Kidnapping, illegal mining, manufacturing and sale of illicit liquor, acquiring contracts on the basis of muscle power, organised exploitation of forest produce, trade in wildlife and fake medicines, grabbing of government and private properties and extortion will come under the ambit of the new law.
It proposes to extend the period of filing charge sheets from 90 days to 180 days.
The state government will also establish a special force and UPCOCA courts to expedite hearing of cases filed under the provisions of the new law. The state home secretary will personally monitor cases lodged under UPCOCA.
The bill provides for minimum three years’ imprisonment to capital punishment. The provision of capital punishment will also extend to those involved in illicit liquor trade. The draft Bill also provides for fines ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 25 lakh.
Although the then government had passed the Gangster Act in 1986, still a need was felt to implement UPCOCA as the existing legal framework, the penal and procedural laws and the adjudicatory system were found to be rather inadequate to control organised crime, he said.
For about a year, the state government had been working to create a safe atmosphere by launching a crackdown on criminals, he said. He highlighted the killing of criminals in encounters with the police as well as measures taken by the state government to strengthen the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) and the Special Task Force (STF).
Terming the UPCOCB draconian, leader of opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary said it will be misused to suppress the opposition and the press. If the law and order situation had improved within a year, why was the UPCOCB tabled in the assembly, he asked.
When the BSP government had tabled the bill, the then the BJP leaders had opposed it, he said.
Leader of BSP legislature party Lalji Verma said the UPCOCB was anti -people, anti-constitution and anti-press. Similar laws had failed to check organised crime in Maharashtra and Karnataka, he said.
Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Ajay Kumar Lallu said the bill should be again referred to the select committee, he said.
Speaker Hriday Narayan Dikshit said there was no need for fresh observation on the bill as the legislative council had not proposed an amendment.
Terming the bill as a black law, the BSP, SP and Congress MLAs staged a walkout even as chief minister tried to ally the apprehension of the opposition. The new law had been brought for the security of citizens, and not to suppress the opposition, he said.