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Gujarat Assembly Passes 'Gunda' Bill With Stricter Provisions to Tackle Anti-social Elements

File photo of Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani.

File photo of Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani.

The Gunda and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Bill also empowers the police to seek 30-day remand instead of 15 days, while a chargesheet can be filed within 90 days instead of the present provision of 60 days.

The Gujarat Legislative Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill to deal strictly with anti-social elements and hardened criminals, prescribing jail terms ranging from seven to 10 years. The Gunda and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Bill also empowers the police to seek 30-day remand instead of 15 days, while a chargesheet can be filed within 90 days instead of the present provision of 60 days.

The bill cleared the passage on the back of majority the ruling BJP enjoys in the 182-member House amidst objections raised by the Congress.

It replaced the ordinance issued by the state government earlier this month.

While introducing the bill, Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said the proposed law was needed to deal strictly with hardened criminals and repeat offenders involved in a wide range of illegal activities.

Besides providing for special courts to fast track cases and appointment of special public prosecutors, the proposed law also empowers the government to attach properties of the accused and pay compensation to victims, said Jadeja.

The proposed legislation also covers "exploitation of girls through love jihad".

Referring to the violent protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Ahmedabad, Jadeja said the proposed law covers acts of rioting and damaging public property.

"Under the proposed law, those involved in anti-social activities or disturbing peace will attract jail terms ranging from seven to 10 years, and a fine of Rs 50,000," he said.

Moreover, government officials found abetting such criminal elements will face prison terms of not less than three years which may go up to 10 years.

The new law defines "gunda" as a person who threatens and bullies people in a personal capacity or in groups.

It further defines gundas as those engaged in disturbing public order or involved in anti-social activities.

"This Act covers offences related to narcotic substances, liquor and drugs-related crimes, grabbing property, creating bogus property documents, women trafficking, offences related to POCSO Act, extortion and kidnapping for ransom," said Jadeja.

Other crimes for which the accused can be tried under this law include spreading terror among people, engaging in violence for recovering money, illegal transportation of animals, violation of Arms Act, engaging in production, sale and transportation of arms and ammunitions.

The opposition Congress protested against the passage of the bill, saying it would "override" Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code.

"Laws are already there to deal with criminals. But, this government has failed to implement the existing laws, and to cover up your failures, you are bringing new laws," said Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani.

He said many provisions of the proposed law violate principles of justice.

"Using this Act, the police can now keep an innocent citizen in their custody for 30 days," he said.

The bill was passed by voice vote.


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