Organised crime is not restricted to a “particular state” and a trial court can take note of charge sheets filed against offenders outside the state for invoking the stringent MCOCA, the Supreme Court has held.
The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA), which is in force in Delhi too, is invoked against offenders to curb the menace of organised crimes.
A bench comprising justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao made the observation while dealing with the appeal of Delhi government against an order of the high court.
The high court had upheld a trial court order discharging Uttar Pradesh-based alleged gangster Brijesh Singh from the charges under the MCOCA on many grounds, including that the charge sheets, pertaining to running of organised crimes syndicate, were filed in cases outside the national capital.
The Supreme court, which upheld the order of the high court, said “the words ‘competent Court’ in Section 2(d) of MCOCA is not restricted to courts in Delhi and charge sheets filed in courts in other states can be taken into account for the purpose of constituting continuing unlawful activity”.
“The commission of crimes like contract killings, extortion, smuggling in contrabands, illegal trade in narcotics, kidnappings for ransom, collection of protection money and money laundering etc by organised crime syndicates was on the rise.
“To prevent such organised crime, an immediate need was felt to promulgate a stringent legislation. The government realised that organised crime syndicates have connections with terrorist gangs and were fostering narcotic terrorism beyond the national boundaries.
“The MCOCA was promulgated with the object of arresting organised crime which was posing a serious threat to the society. The interpretation of the provisions of the MCOCA should be made in a manner which would advance the object of the MCOCA,” the bench said in a 34-page judgement.
Justice Bobde, writing the judgement for the bench, said the menace of organised crime posed a serious threat to civil society and there was a need for making special provisions for prevention and control of criminal activities of the organised crime syndicates and gangs.
This need was recognised by the Maharashtra Legislature which brought the MCOCA in 1999, it said.
The top court considered the question whether charge sheets filed in competent courts outside the National Capital Territory of Delhi can be taken into account for the purpose of constituting a “continuing unlawful activity” and booking offenders under the MCOCA.
It also dealt with the question whether there can be prosecution under the MCOCA without any offence of organised crime committed under the jurisdiction of the particular court.
It held that the words ‘competent court’ under the MCOCA was not restricted to the courts of a particular state where the law is in force and charge sheets filed in courts in other states can also be taken into account for the purpose of constituting continuing unlawful activity.
The apex court also held that an offender cannot be prosecuted under MCOCA without an organised crime being committed within Delhi