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Monday, August 02, 2021

Pleas challenging provisions of GUJCTOC Act: ‘And’ in ‘unlawful activity and terrorist act’ should be read as ‘or’, submits AG

The petitions challenging the constitutionality of the provisions of GUJCTOC Act, have also provided manifest arbitrariness as a ground, on the basis that the definitions do not provide the objective behind the formulation of such definitions.

Ahmedabad |
July 14, 2021 11:26:45 pm
Observations during proceedings will not be treated as authorised: Gujarat High CourtThe rules also mandate that the live streamed feed or videos of the court proceedings “are not to be considered as part of the case or court record or for reliance by any subordinate court of the state in any adjudication” (File)

On a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of several provisions of the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organized Crime (GUJCTOC) Act in the Gujarat High Court, advocate general, representing the state, submitted that with regard to the definition of “organised crime”, the “and” in the phrase “unlawful activity and terrorist act” in the definition has to be read as “or”.

The Act, in section 2 (1) (e), defines organised crime as “any continuing unlawful activity and terrorist act including extortion, land grabbing, contract killing, economic offences, cyber crimes having severe consequences, running large scale gambling rackets, human trafficking racket for prostitution or ransom by an individual, singly or jointly, either as a member of an organised crime syndicate or on behalf of any such syndicate, by use of violence or threat of violence or intimidation or coercion or other unlawful means”.

“They are with reference to organised crime. So organised crime means one, continuing unlawful activity, and two, terrorist acts… To make it more harmonious and practical, if one were to read ‘and’ as a ‘or’, organised crime would mean that either it is a continued unlawful activity or there should be a terrorist act,” the AG said.

Seeking clarity on the submission made by AG Trivedi, Chief Justice Vikram Nath enquired, “So organised crime is a bigger crime than terrorism?,” to which AG answered in the affirmative.

“Ultimately this law is enacted to curb the menace of the occurrence of organised crime. In that eventuality, to see that the word ‘and’ is read is ‘and’, to find a person who has committed both the offences together (of continuing unlawful activity and of terrorism), is rather an impossibility…,” said the AG.

The petitions challenging the constitutionality of the provisions of GUJCTOC Act, have also provided manifest arbitrariness as a ground, on the basis that the definitions do not provide the objective behind the formulation of such definitions.

The AG blamed the Shayara Bano litigation for the scrapping of triple talaq, which had defined ‘manifest arbitrariness’, as a verdict that opened a floodgate of litigation, challenging various laws. “It is a fall out of Shayara Bano and all such judgments because it has become a handy tool available in the hands of the fraternity of lawyers, to challenge any law on a mere expression of ‘manifestly arbitrary’ without explaining how it is manifestly arbitrary.”

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