LUCKNOW: The Yogi Adityanath Cabinet on Wednesday approved the draft of a stringent law on the lines of MCOCA to tackle organised crimes in the state. The draft Bill will be tabled in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly during the winter session, commencing on Thursday.
The Uttar Pradesh Control of Organised Crime Act (UPCOCA), formulated to combat land and mining mafia, kidnapping industry and crime syndicates as well as to break the politician-criminal nexus in state, will give more teeth to law enforcement agencies to control organised crime in the state.
“With rule of law being the top priority of the Yogi government, the Bill is being brought to launch a massive crackdown against mafia and goonda elements that are a threat to peace in society,” said Srikant Sharma, government spokesman and Minister for Power.
The state government has come in for criticism from various quarters over the deteriorating law and order situation despite the CM giving a free hand to the police in dealing with criminals and history-sheeters.
“It was imperative to bring a stricter law to rein in anti-social elements and hardcore criminals. The new Act will also have provision for attachment of properties through ill-gotten means,” a home department official said.
The draft Bill proposes that properties amassed through organised crime will be taken over by the government with the permission of the court during the course of investigation. The property will be confiscated by the state government after conviction.
To break the nexus between criminals and politicians, the draft law envisages special power to the police. In a big relief to investigators, it proposes to extend the period of filing chargesheets from 90 days to 180 days.
The state government will also establish a special force and UPCOCA courts to expedite hearing of cases filed under the provisions of the new law. The state home secretary will personally monitor cases lodged under UPCOCA.
The draft provides for punishments from minimum three years’ imprisonment to capital punishment. The provision of capital punishment will also be extended to those involved in illicit liquor trade. The draft Bill also provides for fines ranging from `5 lakh to `25 lakh.
To prevent possible misuse of the law, the draft Bill says UPCOCA can be slapped only after recommendation of commissioner or IG rank officials.
However, it may not be a smooth sailing for the Bill in the Legislative Council as the ruling BJP is short of majority in the Upper House of state legislature. The Samajwadi Party has been opposing the Bill right from the beginning when it was first introduce during Mayawati’s term in 2007.
SP MLA Ram Govind Chaudhary said his party would oppose the Bill. “It is a law to fish out political opponents in the name of crime,” said Chaudhary. The Act was not needed in UP as the state already had strict laws to check the criminals, he added.
Highlights of the draft legislation
Kidnapping, illegal mining, manufacturing and sale of illicit liquor, acquiring contracts on the basis of muscle power, organised exploitation of forest produce, trade in wildlife, fake medicines, grabbing of government and private properties and extortion will come under the ambit of the new law.
To check the misuse of the law, cases under it will be filed only on the recommendations of the committee of divisional commissioner and range DIG.