Congress hails President Mukherjee’s decision to return Gujarat’s anti-terror bill

NEW DELHI(PTI): Opposition Congress on Thursday welcomed the decision of President Pranab Mukherjee to return a controversial anti-terror bill passed by Gujarat Assembly and alleged the proposed legislation was being used as “a tool of votebank politics” by ruling BJP.

The Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill, 2015 was returned today by the President to the Union Home Ministry as he sought more information related to certain provisions of the legislation, hanging fire since Narendra Modi, as chief minister, first introduced it in 2003. Later, the Home Ministry informed Mukherjee it was withdrawing the bill and will submit a re-worked version for his consent.

AICC spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said Congress stands vindicated on the position it had taken against the bill ever since it was first introduced in 2003 as Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) Bill.
“I learned from the media that the Centre told the President it is withdrawing the bill. This bill was passed when our PM (Modi) was CM of Gujarat. Now, his own government at the Centre is withdrawing the bill, which was passed for doing vote bank politics,” said the ex-Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly. The withdrawal proves Congress was right in opposing this bill. We had met President and made a representation about the bill. Today, truth has prevailed,” said the MLA from Abdasa constituency in Kutch district.
According to him, the bill was never aimed at fighting terrorism, but used as “a tool for votebank politics”.
“When GUJCOC Bill was first passed, NDA was in power at the Centre (2003). Then President A P J Abdul Kalam also returned it due to some controversial provisions. Then, it was once again passed in the Assembly and sent for Presidential assent. However, it was once again rejected. At that time, he (Modi) used to claim in his speeches that he wants to fight terrorism but Congress was not supporting the Bill meant for it,” said Gohil.
“We exposed this lie in the Assembly and showed there was no mention of terrorism in GUJCOC Bill. Thus, a new Bill (GCTOC) was introduced by just inserting the word terrorism.”
Meanwhile, when contacted Health Minister and Gujarat Government spokesperson Nitin Patel declined to comment on the development.

Among other things, GCTOC Bill allows police to record and use telephonic intercepts as evidence. Other controversial provisions include the admissibility of confession before a police officer as evidence and extension of period of filing a charge sheet to six months (from 90 days).