Amid concerns over ‘draconian’ PCOCA, Punjab government treads cautiously on draft
The concern is about possible misuse of such a stringent law, the prime aim of which is to tackle gangsters, said officials involved in the drafting on the condition of anonymity.punjab Updated: Jan 13, 2018 11:01 IST
Even after repeated assertions made by the chief minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, in favour of enactment of a Punjab Control of Organised Crime Act (PCOCA), the government seems to be treading cautiously now.
The concern is about possible misuse of such a stringent law, the prime aim of which is to tackle gangsters, said officials involved in the drafting on the condition of anonymity.
The act was first proposed during the tenure of the SAD-BJP regime, which was replaced by the Congress last March. In June, after some members of the cabinet raised concerns over powers that the act would give to police, a sub-committee headed by health minister Brahm Mohindra was formed.
But it has held only one meeting in seven months, that too back in August, in which the director general of police (DGP), advocate general (AG) and the additional chief secretary (home) were present. It asked the AG’s office to amend some objectionable clauses in the draft.
Confessions and sunset clause
In October, the AG office suggested some changes, including changing the original provision of making confessional statement made before a superintendent of police (SP) admissible before a court.
Following an idea from the DGP, the AG office said that statements recorded by an officer not below the rank of senior superintendent of police (SSP) would first go to an inspector general for invoking PCOCA.
Thereafter, the IG would invoke the act in a particular case only after getting permission from an officer of the rank of additional director general of police (ADGP), according to the tweak suggested.
The AG reportedly even suggested to introduce the act with a ‘sunset clause’, meaning that it would be automatically repealed after a time period.
“As the act gives extraordinary powers to police and there is grows concern that it could be misused, it could be repealed after three years after breaking the nexus of gangsters, the main aim if bringing the act,” the AG office suggested.
On November 4, the CM announced in Patiala that the act would be a reality by the end of that month. He even gave directions to the sub-committee to “expedite” the drafting.
‘Not in haste’
Mohindra, when asked about the delay at a press conference on Thursday, said, “It’s a very serious act. The government is not in haste. We are discussing each and every issue of the proposed act.”
Officials dealing with the process said the other members of the sub-committee, local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and technical education minister Charanjit Channi, have raised apprehensions too over giving such powers to the police.
Sidhu, in an interview to TV channel News18, had said, “Extra-judicial powers given to the police during terrorism time also proved draconian later. Moreover, our government has already caught many gangsters. Maybe this is the reason of the delay in the meeting of the sub-committee.” He was not available for comment when contacted by HT.
The DGP, meanwhile, is learnt to be strongly rooting for the law, with the claims that it would create a “fear of the law” among those involved in organised crimes.