Kerala Govt puts on hold draft of proposed law to detain gangsters without trial

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Thiruvananthapuram: The draft of a law proposed by the Kerala Police with the aim of keeping those who indulge in organised crimes in preventive detention up to 180 days without trial has been put on hold by the State Government in view of the stiff opposition raised by various quarters.

Though the draft recommendation was given by the Director General of Police it met with opposition in the Law Department. Law Secretary V Hari Nair wrote a dissenting note. Then, the government appointed a four-member scrutiny committee led by the State Chief Secretary to study the draft law and the objections raised by the Law Secretary.

When various organisations raised a hue and cry against the draft law, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took a stand that there was not a single file pending with the government regarding this draft law.

But the State Government suffered embarrassment when Manorama published a report about the details of the file on the draft law with clearly mentioning the exact file number. The Chief Minister's office then instructed the sudden freezing of the functioning of the scrutiny committee led by the Chief Secretary.

Though the first meeting of the scrutiny committee was called on September 19, the meeting could not be held because of the inconvenience of the Law Secretary. After the controversy erupted, the functioning of the scrutiny committee was freezed.

Now, the file is with the Chief Secretary. The other members of the scrutiny committee are the Additional Secretary of the Home Department, the Law Secretary and Chief Minister's Senior Legal Counsel K K Rvindranath.

To a volley of questions raised in the Assembly, the Chief Minister just replied that a committee was appointed to scrutinize the draft law.

It was former DGP Loknath Behra who prepared and submitted to the government the draft law modelled on the one applicable in Maharashtra that gave excessive powers to the police. The draft law named 'Kerala Control of Organised Crimes-21' was sent back by the Law Secretary to the Home Department by enquiring whether there is a need for such a law in Kerala.

As per the draft law, the confessionary statement given by the accused to the police will have evidentiary value, similar to the provision contained in the Customs Law.

But the Law Department adopted a stand that as per the Indian Evidence Act, the statement given to the police by an accused cannot be considered as evidence.

The Indian Evidence Act is a central law. If the State Government passes a new law that goes against the already existing central law, then the State will have to get the approval of the President of India.

The draft law contained controversial clauses such as keeping the accused in jail for 180 days without conducting trial and confiscating the property of the accused at the time of inquiry.

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