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Controversial Bill on anti- terrorism passes Gujarat House test.

TWICE rejected by Presidents APJ Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil, the controversial Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Act ( GUJCOC) is back in a new avatar.

On Tuesday, it was pushed through on the last day of the state Assembly by brute majority of the Anandiben Patel government, incorporating all clauses that became the reason for the country's highest office to stop it.

The new version is the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime ( GCTOC) Bill, which would become a law if approved by President Pranab Mukherjee.

The Congress abstained from voting on the proposed legislation when it was passed on Tuesday afternoon.

The Bill has a provision for death penalty and fine of ` 10 lakh, and it empowers phone intercepts as admissible in the courts of law.

Similarly, confessions extracted by the police will also be admissible.

These very clauses attracted rejection by two Presidents.

Rejected The first Bill -- which was passed in 2004 by the Narendra Modi government in the state during the National Democratic Alliance rule at the Centre -- was rejected by then President APJ Abdul Kalam. He had objected to the clause that allowed intercepted phone calls as admissible evidence. In 2008, the Gujarat government dropped this clause and sent a revised bill to President Pratibha Patil. She too rejected it for it allowed confessional statements before police officials as evidence in a court of law.

However, in 2009 the state government under Narendra Modi ignored President Patil's amendments and passed the Bill again in the state Assembly. While the Bill still awaits presidential clearance, the Gujarat government pushed it through on the last day of the Assembly session on Tuesday with a new nomenclature, the GCTOC. As was Narendra Modi's style of pushing through controversial legislations on the last day of an Assembly session, his protege Anandiben Patel introduced this Bill on the last day on Tuesday and got it passed.

The proposed legislation now is all- pervasive in its scope and provides the police with complete powers to tap personal phones without permission and detain people without following standard procedures.

The Bill states, " The Special Courts shall presume, unless it is proven to the contrary, that the accused has committed such offence." The statement of Objects and Reasons contained in the new Bill says, " It was considered necessary to enact a special law with stringent provisions, including the power to intercept wire, electronic or oral communication." BJP sources say this Bill brought by CM Patel, almost out of the blue, could not be without the consent or advice of Modi, given the fact that the proposed legislation restores a majority of clauses deleted earlier on presidential advice.

The equations have changed now, for the government in Gujarat and that at the Centre is ruled by the BJP.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Apr 1, 2015
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