LUCKNOW: The UP Control of Organised Crime Act (UPCOCA)-2017 is just one step short of becoming a law as the state assembly on Tuesday passed the bill to put a leash on crime syndicates and also reign in those trying to foment terror, incite disharmony or dislodge the government forcibly or through violent means.
The house passed the bill with a voice vote amidst opposition’s walk out as they boycotted its passage calling it a black law and accused the state government of trying to scare its political opponents by bringing it in.
CM Yogi Adityanath reintroduced the bill on Tuesday morning after it was rejected by the UP Council wherein the ruling party lacks majority. Notably, UPCOCA was earlier passed by the Assembly on December 21 and was sent to the Council for approval. The Council referred it to the house select committee which approved the bill without any correction but it fell in council.
Now following its reintroduction in Assembly and final passage, what it requires is the Governor’s assent to become a law.
Meanwhile, reintroducing the bill on UPCOCA, an act enacted on the lines of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), in the state assembly, CM Yogi Adityanath led the house into its salient features allaying the fears of opposition that it would be used to settle political scores.
Emphasising over the need of such an Act to control crime in as vast a state as UP, the CM informed the house that it was an Act against those using explosives or firearms or any other violent means or damaging life and property or involved in anti-national or destructive activities.
Heinous crimes, including 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 and fake medicines, grabbing of government and private properties and extortion or to say the crimes being executed by the syndicates will come under the ambit of the new law.
It also intends to bust politician-criminal nexus so that gangsters could no longer get any political patronage. Law enforcement agencies will be given more teeth. Under the law, the state government, with court’s permission, would be entitled to seize properties amassed by high and mighty by using political clout or through organised rackets of land grabbing.
Such properties would be confiscated by the state government after conviction. In a major relief to the probe agencies, the bill proposes to extend period of filing charge sheets from 90 days to 180 days.
A special UPCOCA force and courts would set up to speed up the hearing of cases filed under the provisions of the new law. The state home secretary will personally monitor cases lodged under UPCOCA.
Moreover, the new stringent law could be slapped against any criminal only after the recommendation of Commissioner or IG-rank police officer.
The draft provides for punishments from minimum three years' imprisonment to capital punishment. The provision of capital punishment will also extend to those involved in illicit liquor trade. The draft Bill also provides for fines ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 25 lakh.
However, opposing the bill tooth and nail, the opposition led by SP’s Ram Govind Chaudhary tried to draw the point of its misuse by the government to gag the press, opposition leaders. The entire opposition later staged the walkout.