Sexual and cyber crime offenders in Tamil Nadu could now be booked under the stringent Goonda Act which provides for preventive detention for an year with the state Assembly today passing amendments to the act that also brought first time offenders under its preview.
The Goonda Act provides for preventive detention of certain types of offenders such as bootleggers, goondas and immoral traffic offenders whose activities have the potential to affect the public order for one year and the amendments are aimed at checking such crimes.
The assembly passed two amendments to 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, popularly known as Goondas Act, bringing even first time sexual offenders and cyber crimes under its ambit.
Minister for Electricity, Prohibition and Excise Natham R Viswanathan, who moved the bills for consideration and passing, allayed opposition apprehension that the amendment that brought first time offenders under the law could be misused. Opposition members wanted the government to retain the existing provision of "habitual" offenders.
Explaining the need for amending the act to include first time offenders, the bill said: "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."
Recently the state witnessed a sexual assault on two minor girls staying in a private stay home, which evoked condemnation and calls for stern punishment to the accused. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had also promised to amend the Goondas Act to bring such offenders under its ambit as part of her 13-point action plan to ensure the protection of women.
The House also passed Tamil Nadu Appropriation (No.2) Bill, 2014, Tamil Nadu Appropriation (No.3) Bill, 2014, Tamil Nadu Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Second Amendment, 2014 and Tamil Nadu Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2014.
Tamil Nadu Manual Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Work) Amendment Bill, 2014, Tamil Nadu Hostels and Homes for Women and Children (Regulation) Bill, 2014, Tamil Nadu Universities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014, Tamil Nadu Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2014, Tamil Nadu Establishment of Private Law Colleges (Prohibition) Bill, 2014, Tamil Nadu Physical Education and Sports University (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and Tamil Nadu Fishermen and Labourers engaged in Fishing and other Allied Activities (Social Security and Welfare) Amendment Bill, 2014 are the other bills that were passed by the House on the last day of the Assembly session.