Tuesday, August 12, 2014

TN Assembly: Bills on Borewells, Goondas, Dhoti and Cyber Crimes

Dinamalar epaper

Also view the related links therein the above Acts are available in pdf Formats

1. Tamil Nadu Entry into Public Places (Removal of Restriction on Dress) Act, 2014

2. Cyber law offenders and Sexual-offenders

3. Grant of permit to sink well

Also read the related stories

Laws amended to prevent borewell tragedies

CHENNAI, August 12, 2014


The State government has amended its municipal laws to ensure that children are not hapless victims of careless adults. A Bill introduced in the Assembly on Monday envisages punishment of up to seven years and a fine of up to Rs. 50,000 for persons found guilty of not taking care to cover the bore wells.

Municipal Administration Minister S.P. Velumani said that the amendment was to regulate the sinking of borewells to prevent fatality among children.

Since 2011, at least five children, aged two to five years, have died after falling into open borewells. Despite relentless rescue efforts that sometimes went on for several days, rescue personnel could not save the trapped children. The unsuspecting victims often fell to their death even if they were accompanied by adults. Rescuers have maintained that inattention to securing the borewells safely had resulted in fatalities.

According to the amendment to the Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act, a person who wishes to sink a well cannot do so without obtaining a permit from the executive authority.

However, this does not apply to the sinking of wells for domestic purpose. The owner of every well, in use or disuse, shall follow safety measures as prescribed hereafter.

Another amendment pertains to penalty for sinking wells without permit or registration. Anyone who contravenes the rules would attract punishment.

Amendments will be violative of Article 21 and 22: experts

CHENNAI, August 12, 2014


The government on Monday proposed in the Assembly amendments to the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities (TPDA) Act, popularly known as the Goondas Act, which if passed will make significant changes to the very definition of an "offender" under the law.

Removing the term 'Habitually', the amendments seek to bring under preventive detention law, if deemed necessary by the State, even first-time offenders.

The former Judge of the Madras High Court, Justice K. Chandru, says that the concept of the preventive detention law was envisaged for habitual offenders.

"The amendments will be violative of Article 22 of the Constitution, which prescribes the parameters for such detention laws," he points out.

Time and again, Justice Chandru says, High Courts had flagged abuse of the Goondas Act and have struck down numerous such detentions. In such a scenario, removing the term "Habitually" may make way for further misuse of the law by the police, he cautions.

More significantly, the Bill also proposes to bring under the Goondas Act the offences listed in Chapter XI of the Information Technology Act. This includes Section 66(A) that prohibits "offensive messages through communication service."

In recent times, a number of persons have been booked under this Section in many parts of the country for posting "offensive" messages on social media sites attracting outrage from rights activists.

In fact, moving one step further, the amendments in the Bill make even "preparations" for engaging in a cyber crime an offence if it had the potential to affect public order.

"By bringing within its ambit those persons who are preparing to engage in the commission of a cyber-law offence, the police will be authorised to detain individuals who simply visit a website that carries derogatory material that, if disseminated, will endanger public order. Such a provision is hardly reasonable and is constitutionally suspect," feels Abhishek Sudhir, Assistant Director of the Centre for Public Law and Jurisprudence at the Jindal Global Law School. "Such a provision is violative of Article 21 of the Constitution [which protects right of life and personal liberty]."

As on April 7, Tamil Nadu had 1851 persons detained under the TPDA.

Cyber crime, sexual offence to come under Goondas Act in TN

CHENNAI, August 11, 2014


To combat cyber crime and sexual assault on women, Tamil Nadu Govt. has introduced amendments to the preventive detention act to bring such crimes under Goondas Act. A file photo of a scene at a browsing centre. Photo: P.V. Sivakumar.

Heralding sweeping changes to the law on preventive detention, the Tamil Nadu government on Monday introduced a bill in the State Assembly that will allow the authorities to detain suspects in prison for a year even when only a single offence has been committed.

By other amendments, the government also aims to bring in all cyber-crimes and sexual offences within the ambit of the State's stringent 1982 preventive detention law, called popularly as the Goondas Act.

If enacted, the amendments will mean that the principle that only habitual offenders will be detained under the Goondas Act will be changed to cover even a single offence "which has a propensity to disturb public order."

"There are instances where a single act has the potential to disrupt public order and therefore it will not be meaningful to wait for habitual commission of offences by a person before resorting to preventive detention," said the bill that seeks to further amend the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug-offenders, Forest-offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic offenders, Sand offenders, Slum-grabbers and Video Pirates Act, 1982.

The bill introduced by Minister for Electricity, Prohibition and Excise Natham R. Viswanathan also sought to bring cyber law offenders within the ambit of the Act. "Cyber crime also has the potential for posing a threat to internal security. Businessmen and even government functioning can be affected or even brought to a standstill by hackers and cyber criminals," he said.

Mr Viswanathan introduced yet another bill to amend the Act to bring sexual offenders within its ambit. "As sexual offences against women are prejudicial to the maintenance of public order, the government has announced a 13-point action plan, which included a proposal to bring sexual offenders within the purview of the prevention detention under the Act," he said.

Activists fear misuse of law

CHENNAI, August 12, 2014


Though the government has justified the introduction of a Bill in the Assembly on Monday to bring sexual offenders under the ambit of the Goondas Act, stating that instances of sexual assault threaten public order, civil liberty activists wary of the law being abused by the enforcement authorities.

The definition of sexual offender in the Bill covers the entire gamut of sexual offences possible: “A person who commits or attempts to commit or abets the commission of any offence punishable under sections 354, 376, 376-A, 376-B, 376-C, 376-D, or 377 of the Indian Penal Code or the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 1998 or the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.”

The sub-clause for amendment introduced in the Bill states that “in the case of a sexual offender, when he is engaged, or is making preparations for engaging, in any of his activities as sexual offender, which affect adversely, or are likely to affect adversely, the maintenance of public order” they would be arrested under the Goondas Act.

What if the person “likely to commit a sexual offence” is later found to be innocent, asked senior advocate Sudha Ramalingam. “Only recently the CM had said on the floor of the Assembly that many custodial deaths cases are false. Is it not possible that sexual offences cases could be false as well,” she asked. “In cases of sexual offences what is necessary is speedy action and immediate investigation, not preventive detention,” she said.

Another senior advocate, Geeta Ramaseshan, said the arrests would only make sense in the case of a habitual sexual offender, not otherwise.

“This does look like a harsh legislation. The mere apprehension of a sexual threat cannot be deemed an offence,” she said.

Vidya Reddy, Director of Tulir-Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse, said that after the recent case of the rape of a six-year old child in Bangalore, Karnataka had brought in similar legislation which was used by the police to round up a large number of “possible offenders”. “You can’t bring everyone under the scanner to prevent a crime. As per the current proposal winking at a girl would be sufficient to earn the label of a “goonda,” she said.

Sources: http://goo.gl/PmB7Rl

TN Assembly passes bill to end restriction on dhoti

CHENNAI, August 12, 2014


Tamil Nadu Assembly adopted the Tamil Nadu Entry into Public Places (Removal of Restriction on Dress) Act 2014. File Photo

Tamil Nadu Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill making enforcing dress code and banning entry of persons wearing 'dhoti' in public places a cognisable offence punishable with jail term.

The House adopted the Tamil Nadu Entry into Public Places (Removal of Restriction on Dress) Act 2014 after Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa moved it for consideration and passing.

It empowers the state to cancel the licences of such clubs, recreation associations, trusts and company or society denying entry to any person wearing a 'vesthi' (dhoti), traditional attire of men in the state.

The legislation, enacted against the backdrop of denial of entry to a Madras High Court Judge and two advocates recently by a prominent cricket club in Chennai, also seeks to declare any regulation or by-law made by any organisation imposing a dress code as "null and void".

The violators of the act will attract penal action, including cancellation of licence after notice, besides punishment with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and with a fine upto Rs. 25,000.

No dress code restrictions can be imposed for entry into public places like recreation clubs, hotels, theatres, malls, halls, auditoriums, stadiums and such other places as may be notified by the government, where people including members congregate in connection with any function, event, entertainment, sports or other activity.

The imposition of restriction on persons for entry into public places on the ground that their dress does not conform to Western culture would amount to continuation of the Colonial imperialistic attitude, one of the provision of the bill stated.

At the height of the controversy over denial of entry to the Judge last month, Ms. Jayalalithaa had asserted that a bill banning such dress code would be introduced and passed in the current budget session of the assembly itself.

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