Friday, July 03, 2009

West Bengal should ban Maoists under 1908 Act: Chidambaram

2 Jul 2009, 0633 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The centre feels that the banning of CPI(Maoist) as a terrorist outfit under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act notwithstanding,
the West Bengal government still needs to declare the outfit as an “unlawful association” under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908.

“The grounds on which an association can be banned under the UAPA and the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908, are very different,” Union home minister P Chidambaram pointed out on Wednesday, adding that the latter had a much wider application compared to the UAPA.

“Therefore, we have suggested that the state government should declare CPI(Maoist) as a banned organisation under the Criminal Law Amendment Act,” he stated.

While the “terrorist outfit” under UAPA applies throughout India and entitles police to take penal action against the proscribed outfit, its members, supporters and fund-raisers anywhere in the country, an “unlawful association” under the same Act is defined as one that supports secession. The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908, however has a different objective and defines an unlawful association as one that encourages or aids persons to commit acts of violence or intimidation.

The power to ban an outfit under Section 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act is vested in the state government if the object of the association is interference with the administration of law or interference with the maintenance of law and order or if the association constitutes a danger to public peace.

Such a ban makes it an offence to contribute or solicit a contribution to an unlawful association. Section 17A, 17B and 17E give the state governments special powers to enforce the ban.

Informing newspersons that the counter-operation in Lalgarh was nearing completion, Mr Chidambaram said it was duty of the civil administration to bring back the villagers who may have been inadvertently displaced from their homes due to the ongoing offensive. He added that he had gone through the letter of Trinamool chief and railway minister Mamata Banerjee to the prime minister regarding the Lalgarh situation. “I will look into the allegations (made by Ms Banerjee) and also have a word with her,” assured the home minister.

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