DO NOT SIGN GUJCOC: HOME MINISTRY TO PRESIDENT

After four years the Gujarat Assembly passed the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) Bill, 2003,

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After four years the Gujarat Assembly passed the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) Bill, 2003, and sent it to the Union Government for Presidential assent, sources said that the Ministry of Home Affairs has forwarded the Bill to President Pratibha Patil with the recommendation to send it back to the Assembly without signing it. The communication also advises the President to ask the Gujarat Assembly to re-work the Bill in order to remove provisions that are susceptible to misuse by investigating agencies. It has been learnt from the MHA that Patil argued, GUJCOC and MCOCA are just as draconian as POTA was. The four most controversial provisions of POTA in question were: (i) it allowed the detention of a suspect for up to 180 days (instead of the usual 90 days) without filing charges; (ii) confessions made to the police, normally inadmissible, were now taken as admission of guilt (iii) if incriminating weapons or documents were found in the accused’s possession, the burden shifted on the accused to prove innocence (normally, the prosecution has to establish the case before the accused has the burden to reject it) and (iv) the definition of “terrorism” was vague and prone to misuse.