The Yogi Adityanath government's UPCOC Bill today hit a roadblock in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council, where a determined Opposition stalled its passage, following which the Chairman referred it to a House panel for scrutiny.
The Yogi Adityanath government’s UPCOC Bill today hit a roadblock in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council, where a determined Opposition stalled its passage, following which the Chairman referred it to a House panel for scrutiny. After a brief but animated discussion on the Uttar Pradesh Control of Organised Crimes (UPCOC) Bill, 2017, drafted on the lines of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), it was put to vote. Sensing the sentiments of the members, Chairman Ramesh Yadav referred the Bill to the Select Committee of the Legislative Council for scrutiny. In the Upper House, the ruling BJP is in minority unlike in the state Assembly, where it enjoys brute majority of 325 (along with allies) in the 403-member House. In the 100-member Council, the BJP has just 13 members. The Samajwadi Party has 61 members, the BSP nine, Congress two, RLD one and ‘others’ 12. Two seats are vacant. Riding on their strength in the Council, the opposition members slammed the proposed legislation, which was passed by voice vote in the state Assembly yesterday, saying its provisions were draconian and feared it could be used to settle political scores by the party in power.
The statement of object and reasons appended to the Bill states that the existing legal framework of penal and procedural law and the adjudicatory system were found to be inadequate in controlling organised crime. To combat organised crime, it was decided that a special law would be introduced, with stringent and deterrent provisions including attachment of properties, remand process, setting up of special courts and special prosecutors for speedy trials and modern investigation processes. Under the organised crimes category, it listed offences such as kidnapping or abduction, illegal or forcible bidding in government contracts, murdering anyone by taking money or getting someone killed, grabbing of government or individual land, purchase of land on forged documents and collection of protection money. It included illegal mining or illegal extraction of forest produce or trade in wildlife, money laundering, human trafficking, spurious liquor manufacturing and trafficking in drugs and other banned items.
The Bill envisages stringent punishment for convicts. Those causing loss of life can be sentenced to death or be imprisoned for life and pay a minimum fine of Rs 25 lakh. For other crimes, the punishment could vary between seven years and up to a life term in jail, with a minimum fine of Rs 15 lakh. The Bill also provides for setting up special courts for speedy disposal of cases in consultation with the high court. Participating in the debate, former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav (an SP MLC) said, “This is a Bill which is aimed at deceiving the people of the state. If the intention of the government is really noble, then it should strengthen Dial 100 and 1090. It does not seek to improve the law and order, but is being brought about to silence the politcal opponents. “Your government does not want to improve the law and order, it wants to ‘improve’ the political system.”
Earlier tabling the Bill, deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma, who is also the Leader of the House said, “If the policy and intention (niti evam niyat) of the Opposition is anti-criminal, then it is good. No party will want crime in the state.” Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said, “If the previous government had utilised Dial-100 in the correct manner, then law and order would not have worsened. We are going to act against the corrupt elements through this Bill, and not against any political leaders or workers. Wrong message is being sent to the public about this Bill.” Others who participated in the discussion include Ahmed Hasan (SP and Leader of Opposition), Sunil Kumar Chittor (BSP) and Deepak Singh (Congress). Before being adjourned sine die, the House passed nine bills including the Uttar Pradesh Prayagraj Mela Authority, Allahabad Bill, 2017 and Uttar Pradesh Excise (Amendment), Bill 2017. The Uttar Pradesh Sahkari Samiti (Sanshodhan) Vidheyak, 2017 (Uttar Pradesh Co-operative Society (Amendment) Bill, 2017) was referred to the Select Committee of the Legislative Council for scrutiny.