Prez withholds assent to Gujarat anti-terror Bill

New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil has withheld her assent to the controversial Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill, 2003 (GUJCOC) following state government`s refusal to make amendments to it.

"The President has withheld her assent from the Bill on January 22, 2012 as the state government had not made any amendments in clauses 16 and 20 in the said Bill as per the directives contained in Presidential message to the earlier Bill. The same has been conveyed to the Secretary to the Governor, Gujarat on February 2, 2012," Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran told Lok Sabha today.

The Minister said the Gujarat government has re-submitted the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill, 2003, as passed by the State Legislature and reserved by the Gujarat Governor for consideration of the President, which was received in the Home Ministry on November 11, 2009.

The controversial anti-terror Bill GUJCOCA has been vigorously pursued by Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The proposed law was earlier rejected by the Centre on the ground that it was not in line with its new legislation dealing with terrorism like Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act.

The assent to the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), similar to GUJCOC, was given on April 24, 1999 presumably in accordance with the then policy of the government.

Subsequently, there has been a change in the policy of the Central government and it was conveyed to Parliament that all subsequent state Acts should be in line with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2008, as approved by Parliament. The Centre has also advised amendments to the Gujarat government in this regard.

The GUJCOC Bill, 2003 has been returned to the Governor of Gujarat on June 25, 2009 together with President`s message dated June 24, 2009 to the Legislature of Gujarat to reconsider it. However, the Bill was resubmitted by the Gujarat government without any amendment.