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New criminal law to have specific section to deal with organised crime

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Niraj Sharma
New Update
Organised crime

New Delhi: In the proposed criminal law framework, a new section has been added related to penalises any unlawful activity either by a member of an organised crime syndicate (OCS) or on behalf of such syndicate by use of violence, coercion or other lawful means to accrue direct or indirect material and financial gains. 

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The law clarified that the OCS shall consist of a group of three or more persons who are acting either alone or collectively and have indulged in the commission of one or more serious offences.

This section provides for a death sentence or imprisonment for life as punishment in case the unlawful act results in the death of any person. 

In other cases, minimum punishment of five-year (extendable to life imprisonment) has been provided for members of OCS. 

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Barring spouse, anyone who intentionally conceals or harbours any accused under this section shall also be punished with a minimum imprisonment of three years. The section has provision for minimum three-year imprisonment for a person, who holds any property gained through organised crime.

The section with regard to terrorism too now includes any act carried out to threaten the unity, integrity and security of India; to intimidate the general public or to disturb public order by using a range of lethal weapons and any other life-endangering substance. 

It also covers acts of hijacking and abduction of any person to compel the government to do or abstain from doing certain things. Besides, it considers any act as a terrorist act, which is covered under the second schedule of UAPA.

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Anyone who is involved, directly or indirectly, in a terrorist act will be treated as a terrorist under this section. 

Similarly, any entity, owned or managed by terrorists or a group of terrorists, which is involved in terrorist acts will be considered a terrorist organisation. Besides, any death due to terrorist acts will draw the punishment of death or life imprisonment with a minimum fine of rupees ten lakh. 

In any other case, the minimum punishment will be five years (extendable to life imprisonment). This section also provides for a minimum punishment of five years (extendable to life imprisonment) for those who engage in any act in preparation for any terrorist act.

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The new framework also provides for in absentia trial of permanent fugitives. A special provision has been inserted to ensure that when a person is a declared proclaimed offender, irrespective of being charged jointly, and if he is evading trial with no possibility of arrest in the near future, the court shall not stop the trial in any manner. Moreover, the court shall proceed with the trial in a way as if the absconder was present and pronounce the judgement. This expressed provision is likely to cover a plethora of dreaded criminals and terrorists across the states. It will also reactivate the wheels of justice.

It has now been provided that the trial in the absence of the accused will start after 3 months from the date of framing of charges. The process of issuing of two warrants of arrest (in 30 days intervals), publishing the notice in 2 local or national newspapers, informing his relative regarding the commencement of trial, and affixing notice of commencement of trial will be followed.

The accused who is tried in absentia, will be provided an advocate by the State for his defence. Trial in absentia will not be limited to the recording of evidence of witnesses (which is the current provision) but it will be up to judgment and punishment.

 

Earlier a person can be declared a ‘Proclaimed Offender’ only under a few sections. Even heinous offences like rape or trafficking were not covered under this category. Amendment has now been made that Proclaimed Offender can be declared in all offences which are punishable with imprisonment of 10 years or more, or with life imprisonment, or with death. Further, a provision has been introduced for attachment and forfeiture of property outside India of proclaimed offenders.

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