The Legislative Assembly had passed the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill on 31st March 2015 which is now awaiting an approval from the President of the India before the law could be enacted. In this context, the SIO Gujarat’s monthly organ in Gujarati Yuva Saathi had organized a panel discussion which saw participation from some of the noted High Court Lawyers and Activists of special repute in Gujarat.
S.H.Aiyer, a senior counsel of the Gujarat Highcourt explained that clubbing the Terrorism and Economic Crimes was completely misplaced and unjustified. He termed that the existing laws were adequate to address the crimes presented in the Bill. He also expressed his apprehension on how this proposed law had the intentions of quashing anti-establishment voices and ushering the Police Raj.
Advoate Shamshad Pathan of the Jan Sangarsh Manch termed this proposed law as a draconian one which completely disregarded the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedures). He also pointed out three major objections in the proposed law. He opined that establishing admission to Police Officer as an evidence to an offence was a risky proposition considering the record of police force which has been proven guilty in fake encounters in the past. He also objected to the provisions which would enable the establishment to intercept the telephonic and electronic communications of the individuals thus compromising the privacy of the individuals. Further, he felt that the provision for extending the inquiry period from 90 days to 180 days for preparing a charge sheet was akin to shielding the Police Department of their inefficiencies.
Advocate L.R.Pathan of the Gujarat High Court opined that stronger laws were also welcome if they were to be applied against the real culprits but they can be extremely dangerous when they are used for witch hunting of a certain community and the underprivileged and the marginalized sections of the society. Dr.Shakeel Ahmed, the National Secretary of the APCR recalled the freedom struggle against the Imperialist Britishers and opined that the Ruling Class is now playing the role of the Britishers by explicitly following their urge of suppressing their citizens. He also expressed that the rulers who are unable to dispense justice resort to means of controlling the dissenting voices by framing stringent laws and termed the GujCOCTOC Bill as a clear manifestation of the same mentality.
The participants also felt a need for bringing the matter to the public sphere by educating the citizens of the ill effects of such a Draconian law. They also felt that it was possible to prevent the passage of the Bill by exerting the public pressure as done in the past which resulted in the repulsion of similar laws including POTA and TADA. The various means of protesting the passage of the Bill including a signature campaign with more than 500,000 signatories representing their disapproval to the President of India was also discussed during the meeting.