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Gujarat Assembly passes Anti-Terror Bill

Gujarat Assembly on Tuesday passed by a majority vote the controversial Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill which allows police to intercept and record telephonic conversations and submit them in court as evidence.

The Bill, which was earlier returned by the President thrice to the state government for reconsideration, was passed by a majority vote amid stiff resistance from Opposition Congress, which walked out of the House over its controversial provisions.

The state government re-introduced the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) Bill in the Assembly after renaming it. The bill, however, has retained the controversial provisions.

The contentious provisions of the bill include admissibility of evidence collected through telephonic interception and confession made before police officer as evidence in court.

The GUJCOC Bill, which was on the lines of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), was rejected in 2004 and 2008 by then President AJP Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil respectively. After its passage for the third time in the State Assembly without any changes, the Bill is still pending for clearance from the President.

The Bill was today again introduced in the House by Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel, after which a long debate took place on it, in which Opposition Congress demanded removal of controversial sections like telephonic interceptions, confessions made before some police officer as evidence and time limit of 180 days for filing of chargesheet.

At the end of the discussion, Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela and Shaktisinh Gohil insisted that the controversial provisions should be dropped as per the suggestions of past Presidents when they rejected the Bill. However, Patel said that the provisions of this Bill are in favour of the nation, the people of this country and it allows us to take action against traitors and refused to drop those sections.

Subsequently, Congress walked out of the House. Later, the Bill was passed by majority vote in the State Assembly.

Source: The India Express

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