Odisha Likely To Introduce Goonda Bill; Tighten Noose Around Criminals

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government is likely to introducing ‘Goonda And Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Bill, 2021’ in the Assembly for approval.

The bill, which is stated to be on the lines of laws enacted by Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra governments, has been drafted with an aim to deal with hardcore criminals and anti-socials who  manage to escape due to loopholes in the legal system.

In a letter to the Additional DG, Special Secretary to the government, Santosh Bala stated, “The Law Department scrutinised the draft memorandum for the Cabinet and tentative bill and returned the file with some observations to be taken into consideration while finalising the legislative proposals.”

If enacted, the special law will enable police and law enforcement agencies to deal with anti-socials in more stringent manner. The Bill will be placed before the state Cabinet after examination of the same by Law Department. Once cleared, it will be tabled in the state Assembly.

A person will be counted as ‘goonda’ under the legislation if they use violence, threat and intimidation to disturb public order or gain any undue financial or any other advantage.

“The recent incidence of builders and land mafia taking over possession of land by manufacturing forged documents, kidnapping and abduction for extortion, harassment of senior citizens by criminals, activities of stalking and eve-teasing of girls and cybercrimes against them have resulted in several suicides in the state. These serious incidences of crime also appear to have been perpetrated with aid of public servants who either support the commission of these crimes or by willful omission, facilitate commission of these crimes by refraining from performing their duties,” the proposed bill read.

The draft bill has proposed a minimum sentence of seven years for people convicted under the special law and seeks to give district magistrates the power to attach properties of the accused if they believe the same has been acquired through proceeds of crime even before the court takes cognizance of the charge sheet.

District magistrates will also be empowered to seize assets believed to have been bought from proceeds of crime. The draft bill also proposes a minimum three year jail term and maximum 10 years for officials, who help criminals by their action or inaction, or intentionally avoid carrying out directions of any court or superior officer.

The draft bill also seeks to prosecute accused for offences such as ​assaulting employees or owners of public or private enterprises, violence to collect loan or interest, illegal weapons, counterfeit currency, violation of cow slaughter law, child pornography, acid attack on women, cyber stalking or other offences under Indian Penal Code that are punishable with at least five years imprisonment.

The legal rules mentioned in the bill should be strict so that the antisocial gets punished and no innocent person suffers, said former DGP of Odisha, Bipin Bihari Mishra.

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