Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik on Friday sent the controversial UP Control of Organized Crime Bill (UPCOCA) 2018 passed by the state Legislature for presidential reference.
The Governor also referred two other Bills- 'UP Interstate Migrant Labour (amendment) Bill 2018 and UP Revenue Code (amendment) Bill 2018 for Presidential reference.
A Rajbhawan statement said on Friday that the three Bills were sent for Presidential reference.
Incidentally, a similar law to curb the organized crime was passed by Uttar Pradesh government during Mayawati's rule in 2007-08, but it was withdrawn after the then President Pratibha Patil refused to give it her assent. UPCOCA was first introduced by the Yogi Adityanath government and passed by the UP assembly in December 2017. The bill fell in UP Legislative council as the ruling BJP lacks the majority in the upper house. The bill was referred to the select committee of the upper house which rejected the bill. The bill was again passed by the UP assembly during the budget session in February and later sent to the state Governor for his assent.
The UPCOCA law would give special powers to the police to arrest offenders and members of the crime syndicates. Under the bill, the State would be empowered to seize the property of such people after taking the consent of a special court constituted to hear the cases. Properties acquired through illegal activities and organised crime would also be seized.
Some of the crimes defined under the UPCOCA are: land grab (government and private property), illegal mining, manufacture and sale of illegal medicines and illicit liquor, money laundering, wildlife smuggling, extortion, abduction syndicate, hafta collection, murder and conspiracy to murder and white-collar offences. If found guilty, offenders would face a minimum jail term of three years and a maximum of life imprisonment or even death sentence. The accused will not be granted bail for six months after the arrest. The UPCOCA has 28 provisions in addition to the Gangsters Act, the existing law against organised crime in U.P. Opposition parties had vehemently opposed the UPCOCA saying the law could potentially be used as a tool to suppress rivals, settle political vendetta and target specific communities.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also opposed the law, saying it was only being brought to "deceive the people" and "intimidate leaders of other political parties.
While the Yogi Aditynath government has described the proposed law as a remedy against organised crime, the Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati demanded its rollback, claiming it could be used "as a political weapon" to "oppress" the poor, dalits, OBCs and religious minorities. UNI