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Organized crimes in India: an overview

Context:

  • The Uttar Pradesh government recently gave its nod to a new law against organised crime in Uttar Pradeshalong the lines of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

What is organized crime?

  • Organized crime is a category of transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals.

Performed by:

  • It can be performed by either a member of an organized crime syndicate or on behalf of such syndicate.

Purpose:

  • Its objective of gaining pecuniary benefits, or gaining undue economic or other advantage for himself or any person or promoting insurgency.

Characteristics of organized crime:

  • Organized crime is considered to be a changing and flexible phenomenon.
  • Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist groups, are politically motivated.
  • Many of the benefits of globalization such as easier and faster communication, movement of finances and international travel, have also created opportunities for transnational organized criminal groups to flourish, diversify and expand their activities.
  • Traditional, territorial-based criminal groups have evolved or have been partially replaced by smaller and more flexible networks with branches across several jurisdictions.
  • In the course of an investigation, victims, suspects, organized criminal groups and proceeds of crime may be located in many States.
  • Moreover, organized crime affects all States, whether as countries of supply, transit or demand.

Types of organized crimes:

  1. Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking
  2. Smuggling
  3. Money Laundering & Hawala
  4. Terrorism & Narco-Terrorism
  5. Contract Killings
  6. Kidnapping for Ransom
  7. Illegal Immigration (A large number of Indians are working abroad illegally)

Recent statistics of organized crimes in India:

  • Recent National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) reported that as many as 31 riots took place in one year and no FIRs were filed.
  • The national capital reported the highest crime rate among all metropolitan cities in 2016.
  • Uttar Pradesh tops the list on crimes against women in 2016.
  • It recorded 5% of the total cases of crimes against women, it accounted for 12.4% of the total number of rape cases.

What are the national laws against organized crime in India?

  • India does not have a national law on organised crime.
  • But the country has laws related to criminal conspiracy, which are as follows:

Section 120-B of the India Penal Code

  • Section 120-B of the India Penal Code provides for punishment for criminal conspiracy.

Dacoity and Related Offences:

  • Dacoity is punishable with imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years and five months (section 395).
  • Its subdivisions are:
  • a) criminalists preparation to commit dacoity (section 399)
  • b) Assembly for the purpose of committing dacoity (section 402).
  • c) Section 400 of the Code criminalizes the act of belonging to a ‘gang’ of persons associated for the purpose of habitually committing dacoities.
  • d) Kidnapping for ransom, the parliament inserted Section 364-A in the India Penal.

 Gangsters:

  • There is no central legislation to suppress ‘gang activity’ having countrywide applicability.
  • The State of Uttar Pradesh, most populous and politically most powerful in enacted Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986, which is applicable in that State only.

Are there any state-level laws against organised crime?

  • Yes, till now Maharashtra (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime) and Karnataka (Karnataka Control of Organized Crime Bill) is the only two states to have legislation on this issue.

What are the national level preventive actions taken in India?

  • There are two major preventive Acts by the Indian Constitution:

The National Security Act 1980:

  • The National Security Act 1980 provides for preventive detention by the Central Government or the State Government or by the officers designated by this Government.
  • The detention order is issued for one year with a view to preventing a person from acting in any manner prejudicial to the defense of India or to the friendly relations with foreign powers.
  • The expression ‘security of India’ is open to liberal interpretation and this Act has been used, though sparingly, against anti-national elements and hard core gangsters.
  • Detention is an executive action and the case does not go to the court for trial.

The Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1988:

  • The Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1988 provides for detention of persons related with Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
  • The Central Government or the State Government or designated officers of these Government, can pass an order for detaining a person with a view to preventing him from engaging in illicit traffic in narcotic drugs.

What has been proposed for Uttar Pradesh Control of Organised Crimes Act (UPCOCA)?

  • The Uttar Pradesh government recently approved a draft of a UPCOCA bill which was on the lines of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
  • It has been brought to check and curb acts of organized crime and mafia.
  • The cloud of crimes includes land grabs, illegal mining, sale of illegal medicine and illicit liquor, wildlife smuggling, extortion, abduction syndicates as well as white-collared criminals.

What are the loopholes in the laws against crimes in India?

Inadequate Legal Structure:

  • India does not have a special law to control/suppress organised crime.
  • The existing general conspiracy law and relevant specialActs law is inadequate as it targets individuals and not the criminal groups or criminal enterprises.

Difficulties in Obtaining Proof:

  • As organised criminal groups are structured in a hierarchical manner, the higher echelons of leadership are insulated from law enforcement.
  • It may be possible to have the actual perpetrators of crime convicted, but it is difficult to go beyond them in the hierarchy because of rules of evidence, particularly, non-admissibility of confessions made by criminals before the police.

No legal backing for witness:

  • The witnesses are not willing to depose for fear of their lives and there is no law to provide protection to the witnesses against organized gangs.

Lack of Resources & Training:

  • Most of the States face a resources crunch and are not in the position to spare adequate resources for the criminal justice system agencies.
  • Also the number of police personnel posted in police stations is inadequate.
  • Besides, hardly any training facilities exist for the investigation of organised crimes.

Lack of Co-ordination:

  • India does not have a national level agency to co-ordinate the efforts of the State/city police organisations as well as central enforcement agencies, for combating organised crime.
  • Further, there is no agency to collect, collate, analyse, document and function as a central exchange of information relating to international and inter-state gangs operating in India and abroad.
  • Similarly, there is no system of sustained pursuit of selected gangs at the national and State level.

Problems of coordination in the government:

  • Apart from lack of institutional frame-work, there are problems of coordination between the Central Government and the State Governments and between one State Government and another State Government due to differences in political perceptions.

Way forward:

  • Modern organized crime constitutes a global challenge that must be met with a concerted, global response.
  • The police department has to been given a free hand to deal effectively with troublemakers.
  • Most importantly no politician should give patronage to the criminals in lieu of money or power.
  • Most of the crimes are communicated through wires or internet; thus, the cybersecurity needs to be strict and under continuous surveillance.  
  • The government should introduce hi-tech software and machineries in order to keep a track on the high alert areas.

 

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