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Posted at: Jul 13, 2016, 1:49 AM; last updated: Jul 13, 2016, 5:22 PM (IST)

Punjab Cabinet refuses nod to PCOCA

To re-examine controversial M’rashtra-like law for tackling organised crime

Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12

The Punjab Cabinet today did not approve the Punjab Control of Organised Crime Act, 2016, that empowered the state to deal with organised criminal gangs more effectively. 

The Act, modelled on the controversial Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), was sent back to the Advocate General for re-examination during a Cabinet meeting.

Sources said the Act was brought in by the Home Department, headed by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. However, at the meeting chaired by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, a majority of ministers reportedly felt that certain clauses in the Act could be misused to settle scores with political opponents. There was near unanimity in the Council of Ministers as regards re-examination of the provisions of the Act.

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The ministers, who objected to the Act, said if enforced before the forthcoming Assembly elections, the Act could prove counter-productive for the government. With around 70 organised gangs, having around 500 members, operating in the state, Sukhbir had proposed to bring in the Act.

The new law proposes that confessions made before an SP-rank official will be admissible as evidence. All electronic evidences gathered by the police will also be valid proof for 10 years. An officer of the rank of a Deputy Inspector General or above will be eligible to invoke PCOCA provisions after citing why the crime cannot be covered under the Indian Penal Code.

The Act, in its present form, also aims at empowering courts by allowing in-camera proceedings and a witness-protection programme. It also proposes to set up special courts to ensure speedy trial.

The agenda item sent by the Police Department to the Finance Department for recruiting 7,000 personnel in its Intelligence wing, CID and forensic sciences department also could not make it to the final agenda.

The Finance Department had objected to the relaxations sought by the Police Department as regards age, language and educational qualifications of candidates.

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