President Mukherjee yet to clear Gujarat anti-terror(GCTOC) Bill

November 8, 2015 Author: Jitesh Trapasiya

Almost two months after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) showed alacrity in clearing the controversial anti-terror Bill of the Gujarat government, it is yet to get President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent. Till the time the President signs on the Bill, it cannot become an Act.

The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill (GCTOC), 2015, was cleared by the Assembly last March.

The MHA sent it to the President for approval in September second week. The President is yet to give his assent, and the Bill is still with his office, a senior government official told The Hindu. The official said the President had not asked for any clarifications though.

As reported by The Hindu earlier, the MHA watered down the Bill and rejected Gujarat’s suggestion that the State Home Secretary be the final authority on phone tapping requests. The MHA said the State could not have “absolute powers” and such decisions and clearances would only be processed by the Union Home Secretary.

Vaghela to urge President not to clear state's anti-terror Bill (GCTOC)

The opposition leader of Gujarat state assembly and Congress MLAs Shankersinh Vaghela will meet President Pranab Mukherjee today to urge him not to give assent to a controversial anti-terror bill passed by the Gujarat assembly.

Vaghela will submit a memorandum to the President contending that the bill Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) of 2015 was aimed at giving sweeping powers to the police and could also threaten democratic fabric in the state, Congress sources said.

The Bill, which has been returned without giving any assent by the earlier Presidents twice, was recently cleared by the Union Home Ministry and sent to the President with a recommendation to approve it.

The GCTOC Bill of 2015 was passed by the Gujarat Assembly in March this year after Congress staged a walk out opposing it.

Congress had said the provisions objected to by the previous Presidents had not been adhered to. The Bill was earlier named as Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) which was on the lines of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

Central Govt clears GCTOC ball

Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cleared the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill, 2015 and sent it to the President’s secretariat, according to ET (Economic Times). It will become a law once it receives President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent.

The bill has been hanging fire since Modi first introduced it in 2001 as Gujarat chief minister. It was was thrice rejected by the UPA government.

The President can seek clarifications on certain contentious clauses before giving his assent or rejecting the bill. However, the home ministry’s recommendations are usually accepted by the President.

MHA has sought clarifications from the Gujarat government on the Bill in July. Although there were some reservations within the Rajnath Singh-led ministry about certain clauses of the bill, the home minister decided to give the go-ahead as he felt that there has been a long delay in giving powers to Gujarat to fight terrorism and organised crime.

Centre returns controversial GCTOC Bill

The controversial Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill, 2015 has been returned to the state. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which sent the Bill for an inter-ministerial consultation, returned the Bill with the objections raised by the IT ministry. The development means the Bill will not be sent for Presidential assent and cannot become a law yet. For any Bill passed by a state assembly on issues contravening Central laws, it has to have a Presidential assent to become a law.

It was on March 31, that the Gujarat Assembly passed the Bill again, after it was rejected thrice by two former Presidents- late APJ Abdul Kalam in 2004 and later on by Pratibha Patil in 2008 and 2009. The Bill was first sent for Centre’s approval in 2003 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat.

This time the IT ministry objected to the provision in the Bill, which “allows authorisation of interception of telephonic conversations and their admissibility as evidence in the court of law.”

The Bill was first introduced as the GUJCOC Bill in 2003, with provisions like increasing the period to file chargesheet from 90 to 180 days and also strict conditions for granting bail to an accused. The Bill was rejected by Late Mr. Kalam on the grounds that the clause pertaining to “interception of communication be removed.”

Gujarat Congress leaders request President to reject controversial terror law GCTOC

Gujarat Congress Party Leaders on Saturday urged President Pranab Mukherjee not to approve the controversial anti-terror law GCTOC passed by the Gujarat Assembly. The law thrice failed to secure the Presidential nod.

A Congress delegation includes Political secretary to Congress chief – Ahmed Patel, Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki, Leader of Opposition in assembly Shankersinh Vaghela and MLAs from state, met the President to submit a plea against the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill, 2015, calling it “draconian and violative of the Constitution”.

The Bill has been approved by the Governor and sent to the Centre for further approval from the home ministry and President.

“Assent to the proposed law is fraught with dangerous consequences for the opposition in Gujarat. It violates the fundamental tenets of the Constitution,” the Congress said, pointing to controversial provisions like empowering police to tap telephones and submit them in court as evidence, and making confessions before police admissible in court.

Don’t approve anti-terror Bill (GUJCOC) : Congress

The Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Bharatsinh Solanki and Leader of the Opposition Shankersinh Vaghela, presented a memorandum to Governor O.P. Kohli requesting him not to approve the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill (GUJCOC) 2015 in the interest of the country.

The memorandum added, According to our Constitution, State laws cannot go against Central laws. the delegation pointed out that even the NDA government at the Centre did not give its nod to [the earlier bill] GUJCOC.

Arguing that provisions pertaining to confessions given to the police and interception of communication in the new Bill contradicted those of Central laws, the memorandum said.

The State government drafted the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Bill in 2001 when the BJP was in power in the State and at the Centre. The Centre returned the draft suggesting changes.

The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill

The GUJCOC bill, which is on the lines of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), was rejected in 2004 and 2008 by the then President AJP Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil respectively who had suggested some amendments in the provisions related to telephone interception and confession made before police officer being considered as evidence in court. After its passage for the third time in the state assembly, the bill is still pending for clearance from the President.

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam had in 2004 objected over the particular clause-14 and returned the bill to the government led by the then chief minister Narendra Modi, asking it to remove the clause.

Later in 2008, the bill was passed after deleting the clause related to interception of communication, as per the suggestion of Kalam. However, President Pratibha Patil rejected it and had suggested some more amendments. One of them was to eliminate the provision which allows confession made before a police officer, be admitted in the court as evidence.

However, ignoring the suggestion, the state government had once again passed the bill in 2009 for the third time and sent it for President’s approval. The bill is still pending with the President.