Introduction 1The archetypal modern urban criminal of South Asia is the goonda, often taken to be a rough equivalent of the hooligan. Till it connoted a lowly looter who surfaced during heights of tumult and disappeared as soon as order was re-enforced. In the goonda appeared in a new avatar, that of a fearsome violent robber who lurked in the streets of some north-Calcutta neighbourhoods and preyed upon wealthy Indians or those loyal to them in broad daylight. He struck such terror among his victims and other law-abiding people that the police found it difficult to find witnesses against him. The fear of the goonda assumed such proportions that European police officers of Calcutta, who were obsessed with maintaining order at the time of the then ongoing anti-imperial mass movements, Non-Cooperation and Khilafat, swung into action to draft a new law against goondas and to chalk out a novel strategy of maintaining surveillance on them. At the same time newspapers reported frightening instances of violent crimes from all over the city and attributed these to the goondas.
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History of the Goonda Act in Tamil Nadu The Goonda Act has become a tool to put anyone in prison even without giving them an opportunity to explain their side of the story before the courts. A pro-Eelam activist who organised a candlelight vigil. A man who sold pirated CDs of a few movies. On first sight, there may seem like these people would have nothing in common but they do. It was first enacted in in Bengal and lives on in some form or the other in several States in India, the law aims at a year-long preventive detention of habitual offenders.
But the use of the Act is extended so much that now it has become a tool to put anyone in prison even without giving him an opportunity to explain his side of the story before the courts. Historically, the Act has been associated with detaining those who show political dissent and we could probably see more people being booked under this law for political dissent. The Goondas Act which is a form of preventive detention infringes on human rights as well.
Its use must be restricted to crises. Valarmathi was then accused of being a Maoist sympathiser by the police. The previous month, Thirumurgan Gandhi, the convener of the May 17 movement, was detained under the Act after his arrest for staging a candlelight vigil to commemorate civilian victims in the last phase of the Eelam war. For example, the protests by Gandhi were on issues like demonetisation and other government policies. While these two cases have abused the Act, statistics show that around 3, persons are detained under Goondas Act every year in the State.
This means on an average seven to eight persons are detained every day. The law is a dated one and needs a relook. In , a Madras High Court bench ruled that even a single criminal case against a person is enough to detain him under the Goondas Act.
With this verdict and the broad spectrum of the crimes covered in the legislation, all that is needed to detain a person in jail for a year is a simple FIR. However, the effectiveness of this move has been questioned by those within the system itself.
Never in their wildest imagination would the drafters of the law have realised that it would be used in the context of activities in the digital and mobile ecosystem! It is important to interpret these laws logically. Booking is simple but providing proof and getting conviction is a challenge. However, it is questionable if it actually proves to be a deterrent.
They believe that they are only doing their job. Many even felt that the law, if used effectively, is an important tool that can come in handy for the police. And that is only done by senior level officers and officials as responsibility is left to the person who is executing the detention.
He said it is generally the category A offenders who are detained and that most detainees are let off in months rather than a year. But if let unchecked, the Goondas Act could put an end to the need for courts and a fair trial since police can unilaterally decide who must be put in jail and who can go free.
It aims at a year-long preventive detention of habitual offenders 3, Statistics show that around 3, persons are detained under Goondas Act every year in the State. This means on an average seven to eight persons are detained every day Rs 8, A police inspector has to spend nearly Rs 16, for paper work to detain a person under the Act. Download now TAGS.
The Goondas Act, 1923
History of the Goonda Act in Tamil Nadu The Goonda Act has become a tool to put anyone in prison even without giving them an opportunity to explain their side of the story before the courts. A pro-Eelam activist who organised a candlelight vigil. A man who sold pirated CDs of a few movies. On first sight, there may seem like these people would have nothing in common but they do.
Who is a Goonda? History of the Goonda Act in Tamil Nadu
Baldeo Prasad. The court held that "the definition of a goonda laid down by the Act, which is of an inclusive character, indicated no tests for deciding whether the person fell within the first part of the definition". Act No. Excise Act, or the Public Gambling Act, or Section 25, Section 27 or Section 29 of the Arms Act, ; or is generally reputed to be a person who is desperate and dangerous to the community; or has been habitually passing indecent remarks or teasing women or girls; or is a tout; or is a house-grabber.