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India: Use ordinary criminal laws not Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA)

by Rohit Prajapati, Trupti Shah, 24 November 2008

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We condemn the use of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) against the ten accused including Dayanand Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya and Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit and Sameer Kulkarni arrested so far in the September 29 Malegaon blast case. We strongly feel that the Government should prosecute them under ordinary present Indian Criminal Laws.

The debate about POTA, MCOCA and now of GUJCOC is centered on its two core provisions. First, the section that makes confessions of the accused before a police officer admissible as evidence, and the second is the harsh provision regarding bail. Let us remind that even under British rule, confessions recorded by a police officer have been barred as inadmissible on the grounds that torture by the police is prevalent, routine, and out of control, thus rendering any confession is doubtful.

People should ask the crucial question to party like BJP why they are selectively opposed to ‘use’ of MCOCA in the case of accused of Malegaon blast. This shows the selective concern of BJP and their unprincipled stand on human rights violation & fight against terrorism.

Those who support MCOCA and GUJCOC probably do not have difficulty with mortgaging the basic human rights, importance of genuine investigation & criminal justice system.

The Police and Armed forces when operating under laws like TADA, POTA, MCOCA or The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts take action with the certainty that they are immune from the reach of the law, making them more casual, violent and atrocious. These laws have not only violated the basic human rights of the citizens but have failed to solved the problems of terrorism and similarly ‘GUJCOC’ will also not solve the problem.

The repeated remarks by the Supreme Court regarding Police and the National Human Rights Commissions statement on TADA, it is apparent that not only activists but state entities as well are concerned about human rights violation by the state. The only true way to fight terrorism must be to work closely with the community, rather than illegally detain people on the basis of their religion, status, or political affiliations.

Rohit Prajapati
- Trupti Shah
- Activists of Gujarat