PUCL Bulletin, June 2001

Karnataka Control of Organized Crime Bill, 2001

Also see, a report

To, Sri. K.R. Narayanan, President of the Republic of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.

Your Excellency, I would like to draw your kind attention to the newly formulated 'Karnataka Control of Organized Crime Bill 2001', passed in both houses of the legislature sans discussion or careful analysis on 25th Nov 2000 and subsequently signed by the Governor on 16th Jan 2001. The Bill is now referred to your Excellency's concurrence before it becomes a law of the State.
A perceptive reading of the Bill in tandem with legal experts, mass organizations, and retired judges exposes the many pitfalls in the Bill.
We hope that your Excellency would consider the Bill in the perspective of the common man, which is necessary to see the Bill in its true colours-autocratic and draconian.

Organized crime as mentioned in the Act is not new. The only new feature of the present bill is the term 'organized crime syndicate', a comparatively recent global phenomenon. Though we admit the necessity of punishment in these cases, we would like to emphasize the unholy nexus between the underworld and politicians, which is the genesis of these crimes. Until this nexus is severed, no amount of legislation would be effective.

  1. The most disturbing, aspect of the KCOC is the use of the words 'insurgency' and 'promoting insurgency'. These words are not mentioned in the preamble, statement of objects or purpose of the Bill. Neither is it defined, leading to ambiguity and scope for varied interpretation.
    Insurgency is not defined in the IPC either. To equate it with a crime would be in violation of the citizen's fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression.
  2. The Bill invests the police with unbridled powers and the scope for misuse is great. For example an individual's communication channels may be intercepted. This is in gross violation of the right to privacy.
  3. Acceptability accorded to confessions made before a police officer under the KCOC is in violation of the letter and spirit of the Indian Evidence Act.
  4. Another atrocious element is the blanket immunity given to the police. Any action of a government servant under this Act was deemed to have been doing in good faith and he cannot be proceeded against.
  5. A trial under the KCOC can be held in camera and the details of witnesses kept secret. Such permission militates against the framework of civilized society. "It destroys transparency and openness of Justice". (Krishna Iyer). The provisions relating to bail are ridiculous, to say the least. Bail will be granted only if the court is satisfied that the accused has not committed the crime, or will not do so in the future. This amounts to judging the accused at the preliminary stage itself. If the accused is on bail in any other case, bail will not be granted again.
  6. Yet another serious flaw in the Bill is the absence of a definite time frame for disposal of cases. This makes it nothing less torturous than the pernicious TADA, notorious for detaining under trials for long periods of time thereby obstructing the cause of justice. The absence of any permission to confess before a judicial magistrate makes it more atrocious than TADA.

    I, therefore, urge your Excellency not to give concurrence to this Bill and send it back to the Government of Karnataka. The state government would do well to be more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people than impose such unconstitutional and anti-democratic laws.

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