The state Assembly passed the hotly debated Uttar Pradesh Control of Organised Crime Bill (UPCOCB), 2017, amid empty Opposition benches on Thursday.
Staging a walkout before voting on the Bill began, opposition parties referred to the proposed law as “kala kanoon” (black law), an “undeclared Emergency” and an attempt to curtail rights, demanding that it be sent to the House’s select committee.
Earlier in the day, CM Yogi Adityanath, while initiating discussion on the Bill, said, “BJP ne kabi kisi kanoon ka durpyog nahi kiya….. Humari sarkar koi bhi durpyog nahi hone degi (BJP has never misused any law and my government will not allow any misuse.”
However, he added that crime was being “created” in the state to malign the image of his government, and the Bill would instil fear in criminals and establish “Kanoon ka raj” (rule of law). He added that his government does not work with a feeling of “vengeance”.
The CM further said that there were about 20,000 political cases registered in the state for mere “dharna pradarshan” (demonstration) etc., for which warrants were sometimes issued after years. He added that soon, another Bill would end such cases.
Adityanath asked the Opposition that if maximum walkouts in the Assembly have taken place on the issue of law and order in the past, why are they opposing the Bill now.
The CM also said that since his government has come to power all festivals are being celebrated in the state without any “bhed-bhav” (discrimination).
Citing “achievements” of his government in terms of law and order, Adityanath said such was the fear of his government in the mind of criminals that they were leaving the state.
Leader of Opposition, Ram Govind Chaudhary, demanded that the Bill be sent to select committee for scrutiny, calling it a “kala kanoon” and aimed at curtailing rights of the public. Citing a similar law brought in by the then BSP government in 2007, which later got stuck awaiting the President’s approval, Chaudhary quoted statements made by BJP leaders in Assembly, including Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Khanna, who was then chief whip of BJP, at that time against the Bill.
While Chaudhary alleged that the law would also target the media and has not shown faith in the judiciary, he also warned the ruling party that they should not bring in a “Bhasmasur” (self-destructive demon) which can be used against them in the future as well. He also asked that if, as per the CM’s previous statement, all criminals had been caught and sent behind bars, what was the need to bring in this Bill. He also alleged that the Goonda Act, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) etc. were first used against student leaders and politicians.
Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya demanded a “secret voting” on the Bill, saying that POTA was misused against him as well as his father, and was later recalled by the president.
BSP Legislature Party leader Lalji Verma said that the law could be misused against politicians at the will of the government, informing the House that recently one of the corporators of his party in Aligarh was booked and sent to jail for taking an oath in Urdu.
Congress Legislature Party leader Ajay Kumar Lallu also demanded scrutiny of the Bill by the select committee, citing an incident in Pipraich police station and claiming that once, a policeman had booked the Leader of the House (Adityanath), who was then MP from Gorakhpur, for calling him, leading to protests. He said that if such an Act had been in place then, it would have been first invoked against Adityanath.