Isn’t MCOCA reserved for terrorists and mafia?

How can police prosecute bookies and betting accused cricketers under this very heavyweight law?

Let’s try to understand this legislation.

Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999 is a law enacted by Maharashtra to combat organized crime and terrorism. Organized crime has for quite some years now come up as a threat for the society. It steals national wealth and encourages social evils like illegal trade of narcotics, kidnapping, collection of protection money etc.  Criminals make a great use of wire and oral communications while commissioning of crime. The interception of such communications to obtain evidence against them was becoming necessary and if at all they were caught then police needed to have more powers to hold them back into custody. The legal framework, that is the penal and procedural laws and the adjudicatory system, are found to be rather inadequate to curb or control the menace of organized crime. Therefore the government decided to enact special laws with stringent and deterrent provisions to control the organized crime.

 

What is organized crime?

Organized crime means any continuing unlawful activity by an individual, singly or jointly, either as a member of an organized crime syndicate or on behalf of such syndicate, by use of violence or threat of violence or intimidation or coercion, or other unlawful means, with the objective of gaining pecuniary benefits, or gaining undue economic or other advantage for himself or any person or promoting insurgency.[1]

Like the recent case of spot fixing, it is speculated that the money of underworld mafia is involved. According to the police the accused persons were acting on command of people like Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and Chota Shakeel who have a continuous past record of organized crimes, provisions of MCOCA have been invoked against the accused.[2]

 

What crimes come under M.C.O.C.A.?

  1. Committing offence of organized crime which results to death;
  2. Being a member of organized crime;
  3. Aiding or Abetting or knowingly facilitating the commission of organized crime or helping in preparation of such acts. For eg- Communicating or handing over documents, passing and publishing of information or documents which is helping in commission of organized crime;
  4. Giving shelter or concealing any member of organized crime;
  5. Holding or looking after any property derived or obtained from commission of organized crime or property in possession on behalf of organized crime.

There has to be a “continuing unlawful activity” by individual or a group neither as a member of an organized crime syndicate or on behalf of such syndicate. To consider an act a continuing there are conditions which needs to be fulfilled. Firstly, it has to be a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment for three years or more.[3] Second, more than one charge-sheet must have been filed before a competent court within the preceding period of 10 years and the court must have taken cognizance of such offence. Due to the peculiarity of this law it is necessary to sustain the charges against at least one of the accused in order to sustain the charge of conspiracy against the remaining accused, who might have acted on his or her behalf.

It was generally considered that assisting means helping with finances but the help does not necessarily means monetary but it could be ‘any’ kind of assistance to the criminals responsible or helping in commission of organized crime.[4]

How to decide whether M.C.O.C.A. has to be applied  instead of other laws?

  1. M.C.O.C.A, generally, deals with prevention and control of criminal activity by organized crime syndicate or gangs within India. Its aim is to minimize the unlawful activities done by organized criminal groups.
  2. It’s emphasis is on crime and pecuniary benefits arising from it. Activities which benefit or favours monetarily but could extend up to insurgency. Generally, it is about the cases of spoken or written words or any other form of visual representation. It isn’t about terrorism, bombs, guns etc.
  3. Unlawful activity used in M.C.O.C.A. is not some terrorist attack or insurgency.
  4. It punishes for promoting insurgency but not for insurgency per se.

 


[1] 2(1)(e) Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999
[2] Mumbai underworld involved in spot-fixing: Police
[3] Section 2 (1)(d), Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999.
[4] 2(1)(a)(iii), Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999.

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