A delegation of senior Gujarat Congress leaders, led by Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) chief Bharatsinh Solanki and the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, Shankersinh Vaghela, Monday handed over a memorandum to state Governor O P Kohli, requesting him not to give consent to The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill, 2015 (GUJCOTOC). The controversial Bill was recently passed by the ruling BJP in the state assembly and is likely to be sent to the Governor for his consent soon.
The memorandum said that while the interception of telephone amounted to violating the fundamental rights of citizens, allowing statements made before the police as evidence admissible in the court was very dangerous in the sense that police could use third degree methods to get statement.
Apart from Solanki and Vaghela, the group consisted of former GPCC president Siddharth Patel, party spokespersons in the assembly Shailesh Parmar and Gyasuddin Shaikh and Congress MLA from Amreli Paresh Dhanani.
Giving details about the visit to the Governor in a press release, Vaghela said that since Gujarat government was to pass the controversial Bill with the force of majority in the assembly, Congress members had walked out. He added that the bill was denied consent earlier on three occasions — twice by the President and once by the Governor. Vaghela said that senior BJP leader L K Advani had suggested changes to the Bill when the latter was the Home Minister in the Central Government.
On some controversial provisions in the Bill, Vaghela said that it proposed spying on any citizen, detention of anybody without giving any reason and no bail for six months to the arrested accused. And these provisions, Vaghela added, were not in consonance with the Constitution and, therefore, the Bill was returned by the President and the Governor at the relevant time. Vaghela said that the Gujarat government did not accept any suggested changes in the Bill and passed it with the force of majority in the assembly with the object of attaining “political mileage”. “We have given the memorandum so that the Governor does not sign the same, giving it the form of an Act,” Vaghela said.
The release added that as part of the Congress delegation, Gyasuddin Shaikh had alleged that the state government would misuse the Act to suppress the voices of people fighting against the government. He further alleged that in the past, legislations like Prevention of Terrorism Act and Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, commonly known as POTA and TADA respectively, were misused and people from the oppressed class, specially minorities, were targeted. Shaikh also argued that 99 per cent of those people were acquitted subsequently by the courts.