July 26, 2021 11:32:00 pm
In a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of various provisions of the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organized Crime (GUJCTOC) Act before the Gujarat High Court, the petitioners on Monday highlighted that since the central Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act already covers the ambit of terrorism and terrorist activities, a state legislation defining the same would be a “colorable legislation.”
It was also the petitioners’ case that with the provision of GCTOC Act that says the Act gains precedence over any other legislation, central National Investigation Agency will never come in the picture of probe and will also see adjudicatory powers of court reduced in such matters, laying the power of exercising discretion with police officers.
Advocate Tejas Barot, representing the petitioners, submitted that section 15 of the UAPA already defines terrorist act and the scope of it and under such circumstances, permitting the state to restrict the scope of it “would be a colourable legislation and as SC has not upheld it, it will be playing fraud on the Constitution.”
Heard by a division bench headed by Chief Justice Vikram Nath, the bench remarked, “…terrorism can be inter-state within the country and it can also be cross border, but can it not be said that there can be terrorism within the state? The answer to that would be the definition under 15 (1) (a) of UAPA and 15 (1) itself takes care of such terrorist activities within the state also and therefore state need not legislate a separate law to cover terrorist acts.”
Barot also submitted that NIA provides for a schedule of offences and UAPA is one of the acts falling under that schedule and thus when an offence happens with respect to the NIA’s scheduled offences, it is the duty of the state to inform the central government, which can now be bypassed through GCTOC Act in Gujarat.
“Though the problem is of a higher magnitude, the officers will not invoke UAPA or vice versa and thus NIA will never come into picture. Ultimately it rests on the discretion of the concerned officer under section 22(1) (a) (of GCTOC Act) and there is no argument canvassed by the state on how this discretion is to be exercised… There could also be situations when provisions of both the Act can be made….,” submitted Barot.
Advocate Hriday Buch, also representing one of the petitioners, submitted that giving adjudicatory powers to home department through the police officers under its jurisdiction takes away the power of courts.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.