Gujarat government to strengthen the Gunda and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat government is set to pass an ordinance in the next cabinet meeting, to strengthen the Gujarat Gunda and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act by incorporating provisions for faster trial of cases, tougher penalty for offences and protection of witnesses.

The proposed ordinance “will tighten the leash on antisocial elements who are a hindrance in the state’s progress. This Act will introduce strict laws against people who are involved in the illegal trade of alcohol, gambling, cow slaughter, human and child trafficking, sale of counterfeit medicines, sale of substances like drugs, kidnapping, transport and sale of illegal weapons, etc.”, the government in a communique.

According to the proposed provisions, people engaged in antisocial activities or found to be preparing for such activities or hindering the safety and tranquillity of the state will face a prison term of no less than 7 years and up to 10 years, and a fine of Rs 50,000. Government officials or public servants, if found abetting such people, will face a prison term of 3-10 years.

Provisions have also made in the ordinance for six-month imprisonment without penalty and a fine of Rs 10,000 for any act committed by thugs in violation of the law. Prior permission, however, will be required from the concerned range inspector general or police commissioner before registering such offences.

Thugs under this Act are defined as those who threaten and bully people individually or in groups, or those engaged in destruction of public properties.

Violation of the Narcotics Act and Drugs Act and engaging in consumption, transportation, import and export of alcohol, drugs, and other such substances will be included under the Act. Similarly, engaging in activities like counterfeiting property documents, claiming land through illegal means, or abetting in illegal acquisition of land will also be included under it.

Prostitution, offences under the Child Protection Act, offences under Gambling Prevention Act, attempts to resort to violence and disrupt harmony, spreading panic and terror among people, kidnapping for ransom, engaging in physical violence for recovering money, illegal transportation of animals, violations of the Arms Act and engaging in production, sale and transportation of arms and ammunition will also be included under the Act.

Special courts will be formed in order to deal with cases related to the Act. Provisions for this have been made already. Provisions have also been made to conduct hearings of such cases in other courts, apart from the designated courts. Pending cases related to all the aforesaid offences will directly fall under the jurisdiction of the special courts. The cases can also be transferred from one special court to the other courts, if required.

Cases will proceed and come to a definite result even if the accused cannot be physically present for the hearing, on account of being accused in multiple offences and cannot be produced in the special courts during the hearing.

The property of thugs can be confiscated by the district magistrate in case the property accumulated is liable to be investigated, as per the proposals. If required, the magistrate can appoint an administrator for the property.

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