AFTER THE previous Akali-BJP regime had shelved its proposal to enact the Punjab Control of Organised Crime Act (PCOCA), the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab is preparing to bring a legislation to this effect by the end of November.
Amarinder has directed a Cabinet sub-committee headed by Cabinet Minister Brahm Mohindra to expedite drafting of the legislation on PCOCA to crack down on the menace of organised crime and gangsters in the state.
PCOCA was proposed by DGP Suresh Arora during the previous government’s tenure too, but during a Cabinet meeting at the time, several Akali ministers felt it could be used as a tool for vendetta politics. However, the previous government did not go ahead with it as the state was poll-bound.
After the DGP took up the issue of law and order during a review meeting chaired by the Chief Minister on Thursday, seeking more powers for the police to tackle organised crime and gangs, the CM directed Mohindra to expedite the proposal.
Arora contended that the police need to be empowered to effectively deal with criminal gangs, for which a legislation such as PCOCA was required to be introduced on an urgent basis.
The Chief Minister agreed that it was important to instil fear of the law into the gangsters to check their attempts to create lawlessness and trouble in the state. The proposed legislation would ensure that the police are not obstructed from dealing with gangsters with an iron hand, said Amarinder, in a statement issued Friday.
Although the proposed law would provide wider powers to the police to take action as needed to control gangsters and criminal gangs operating in the state, it would also have sufficient checks and balances to prevent misuse, a government statement said.
The Chief Minister clarified that while it was essential to better equip the police to handle the threat of gangsters, who had been given a “free hand to rule the roost under the previous SAD-BJP regime”, his government would ensure that there was no arbitrary application of PCOCA or any human rights violation committed in the name of the law, as per the statement.
Soon after taking over earlier this year, the Congress government had revived the proposal to introduce PCOCA considering the large number of organised gangs operating in the state and a spate of recent incidents of jailbreaks and violent clashes in prisons.
The proposed legislation is aimed at empowering police officers of DIG rank or above to invoke PCOCA with a detailed note on IPC not being sufficient enough to deal with the problem.
At the same time, it has been proposed that the new law should prevent any arbitrary action under its provisions. The legislation would also have enough internal controls to secure witnesses and ensure fool-proof in-camera court proceedings, sources said.