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Posted at: May 21, 2019, 6:53 AM; last updated: May 21, 2019, 3:26 PM (IST)

PCOCA proposal back in works

PCOCA proposal back in works

Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20

Following a Punjab and Haryana High Court order to contain the “growing cult of gangsters”, Punjab Police are reviving their proposal to enact the stringent Punjab Control of Organised Crime Act (PCOCA).

The state has been debating the enactment for the past three years. While the SAD-BJP regime had rejected it, the Capt Amarinder Singh government is keen on enforcing it. Punjab Police too have been insisting on having such a law to detain gangsters for longer periods.

The proposal has, however, been gathering dust for over a year now due to opposition within the Cabinet and by the Opposition. Political leaders both within the government and outside fear PCOCA may be used for political vendetta.

Under the Act, besides detaining a gangster without bail for longer periods, only a statement or confession made to a senior officer will be admissible under the law. There are no provisions for preventive custody of gangsters at this moment.

On May 13, a High Court Bench asked the state “to enact special law(s) for the prevention of, and for coping with gangsters and anti-social activities, within a period of six months”. The orders came in reference to a case of convicted gangster Rakesh Kumar, alias Boxer, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Ludhiana court in January, 2016, for murder of a youth, Pinku.

Dismissing the gangster’s appeal, the HC asked the state to come up with provisions akin to the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986, to deal with the menace. It observed that the gang culture promoted strife in society and was required to be curbed with iron hand.

DGP Dinkar Gupta said Punjab Police have been pushing for a stringent law against gangsters. He said the HC order was under study and a fresh proposal was being made to the government. “We are taking up the matter with the government afresh, given that there is a six-month deadline.”

Punjab had around 500 listed gangsters in 2016. Following a crackdown, the number has come down to under 100. Of these, the police have categorised 21 as most notorious. Sources say 13 of these have been arrested or killed in encounters.

On lines of MCOCA

  • PCOCA is an improved version of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. Its draft provides for detention without bail up to one year, while Maharashtra’s law allows detention up to six months

  • Only a confession made before a DIG-rank officer is admissible in court. The confession may further be ratified by an ADGP-rank officer. Presently, statement made before police has no value

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