Organized Crime In India
The core organized crime activity is the supply of illegal goods and services to countless numbers of citizen customers. It is also deeply involved in legitimate business and in labour unions. It employs illegitimate methods-monopolization, terrorism, extortion and tax-evasion to drive out or control lawful ownership and leadership, and to extract illegal profits from the public. Organized crime also corrupts public officials to avert governmental interference and is becoming increasingly sophisticated. In India, in addition to its traditional spheres of activities which included extortion, seeking protection money, contract killing, boot-legging, gambling, prostitution and smuggling, now added is drug trafficking, illicit arms trading, money laundering, transporting illegitimate activities based essentially on its readiness to use brute force and violence. By corrupting public officials and thereby monopolizing or near monopolizing, organized crime aims to secure for itself power. Later, the money and power it begets are used to infiltrate legitimate business and several other related activities.
Meaning of organized crime
Organised crime is defined as “those involved, normally working with others, in continuing serious criminal activities for substantial profit, elsewhere”. Organised criminals that work together for the duration of a particular criminal activity or activities are what we call an organised crime group.
Organised crime group structures vary. Successful organised crime groups often consist of a durable core of key individuals. Around them, there’s a cluster of subordinates, specialists, and other more transient members, plus an extended network of disposable associates.
Many groups are in practice loose networks of criminals that come together for the duration of a criminal activity, acting in different roles depending on their skills and expertise. Collaboration is reinforced by shared experiences (such as prison), or recommendation from trusted individuals. Others are bonded by family or ethnic ties – some ‘crime families’ are precisely that.
Organised criminals make use of specialists who provide a service, sometimes to a range of crime gangs. Services include transport, money laundering, debt enforcement, or the provision of false documentation (identity crime underpins a wide variety of organised criminal
Characteristics Of Organised Crime
Characteristics of the Criminal Group
· Continuity: The criminal group operates beyond the life time of individual members and is structured to survive changes in lead ship.
· Structure: The criminal group is structured as a collection of Hierarchically arranged interdependent offices devoted to the Accomplishment of a particular function. It may be highly structured or may be rather fluid. It is, however, distinguishable as the ranks are based on power and authority.
· Membership: The membership in the core criminal group is restricted and based on common traits such as ethnicity, criminal background or common interests. The potential members are subjected to a lot of scrutiny and required to prove their worth and loyalty to the criminal group. The rules of membership include secrecy, a willingness to commit any act for the group and intent to protect the group. In return for loyalty, the member of a criminal group receives economic benefits, certain prestige, and protection from law enforcement.
· Criminality: The criminal group relies on continuing criminal activity to generate income. Thus, continuing criminal conspiracy is inherent in organized crime. Some activities such As supplying illegal goods and services.
· Violence: Violence and the threat of violence are an integral part of a criminal group. The violence or threat of it is used against the members of the group to keep them in line as also against the outsiders to protect the economic interests of the group. Members are expected to commit, condone or authorize violent acts.
· Power/Profit Goal: The members of the criminal group aim at maximizing the group’s profits. The political power is achieved through the corruption of public officials, including legislators and political executive. The criminal group maintains power through its association with the “protectors” who defend the group and its profits.
Legal Position In India On Organized Crime
Organized crime has always existed in India in some form or another. It has, however, assumed its virulent form in modern times due to several socio-economic and political factors and advances in science and technology. Even though rural India is not immune from it, it is essentially an urban phenomenon.
Criminal Conspiracy Sec. 120-A of the Indian Penal Code defines criminal conspiracy as:
“When two or more persons agree to do, or cause to be done-
(1) An illegal act, or
(2) An Act which is not illegal by illegal means. Such an agreement is designated as criminal conspiracy:
provided that no agreement except an agreement to commit an offence shall amount to a criminal conspiracy unless some act besides the agreement is done by one or more parties to such agreement in pursunce thereof.merely incidental to that object”.
Section 120-B of the India Penal Code provides for punishment for criminal conspiracy.
Dacoity and Related Offences
Dacoity is one of the oldest forms of crimes in India and is committed purely for the purpose of looting or extortion. Section 391 of the Penal Code defines dacoity as:
“When five or more persons conjointly commit or attempt to commit a robbery, or where the whole number of Persons conjointly committing or attempting to commit a robbery, and persons present and aiding such commission or attempt amount to five or more, every person so committing, attempting or aiding is said to commit ‘dacoity’.”
In other words, if five or more persons commit the offence of robbery, they commit
‘dacoity’. Dacoity is punishable with imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years and five months (section 395).
a) criminalists preparation to commit dacoity (section 399)
b) Assembly for the purpose of committing dacoity (section 402).
c) section 400 of the Code criminalizes the act of belonging to a ‘gang’ of persons associated for the purpose of habitually committing dacoities.
d) kidnapping for ransom, the parliament inserted Section 364-A in the India Penal”.
Law on Gangsters
There is no central legislation to suppress ‘gang activity’ having countrywide applicability. The State of Uttar Pradesh, most populous and politically most powerful in enacted Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act,1986, which is applicable in that State only.
The gang has been defined as a group of persons, who, singly or collectively, indulge in anti-national activities by violence or threat of violence for gaining undue political, economic or physical advantages and includes, offences against the body, boot legging, forcible possession of immovable property, creating communal disturbances, obstructing public servants in the discharge of their duties, kidnapping for ransom, diverting an aircraft or public transport vehicle from its schedule path, etc.
A gangster is punishable with minimum imprisonment of two years extendable up to 10 years (sec. 3). The rules of evidence have been modified and certain statutory presumptions can be raised against the gangsters by the trial court. Provision has also been made for the protection of witnesses. The trial may be held in-camera on the request of public prosecutor. The name and address of a witness can be omitted in the court records, if the Court so desires. The property of the gangster can be attached by the District Magistrate if satisfied that it was acquired through criminal activity. This Act has a wide canvass and purports to cover large areas of organized criminal activity.
There are several other central statutes which deal with specific facets of organized crime. Some of them are:
a. The Customs Act,
b.1962; the Narcotics Drugs and
c. Psychotropic Substances Act, 1884; the
d. Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956; the
e. Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973
f. the Public Gambling Act, 1867 etc.
g. Besides, the State Government has also legislated on subjects like excise,
Prohibition and gambling etc.
The National Security Act 1980 provides for preventive detention by the Central Government or the State Government or by the officers designated by this Government. The detention order is issued for one year with a view to preventing a person from acting in any manner prejudicial to the defense of India or to the friendly relations with foreign powers. The detention has to be approved by an Advisory Board headed by a serving High Court judge. The expression ‘security of India’ is open to liberal interpretation and this Act has been used, though sparingly, against anti-national elements and hard core gangsters. Detention is an executive action and the case does not go to the court for trial. The illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances poses a serious threat to the health and welfare of the people and the activities of persons engaged in such illicit traffic have a destabilizing effect on the national economy. The Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1988, provides for detention of such persons. The Central Government or the State Government or designated officers of these Government, can pass an order for detaining a person with a view to preventing him from engaging in illicit traffic in narcotic drugs. The detention can be made for one year but in certain circumstances it is extendable to two years. Thus, India has laws scattered in various statutes to deal with various facets of organized crime. The existing laws, however, drastically fall short of the requirements to curb the menace. The Government of India is conscious of this and has drafted the Organized Crime Control Act.
The draft Act defines ‘Organised Criminal Gang’ in a very comprehensive manner, incorporating most of the essential
Characteristics of organized crime. A gangs defined as:
“A band of two or more persons who commit or attempt to commit or cause to be committed, either individually or collectively, in furtherance of a common object or objects and on a continuing basis, for material gains or otherwise, by taking recourse to use or show of violence or threat of violence, either direct or implied, or by fraudulent or dishonest means corrupting the public servants, any of the acts listed in Schedule I to this Act.”
Schedule I includes most major criminaloffences, including murder, bodily harm,smuggling, traffic in drugs, kidnapping for ransom, espionage, causing bomb blasts, aircraft hijacking, hostage taking, mass killing, contract killing, gang rapes,extortion etc.
Profiles Of Some Organised Criminal Gangs
Criminal gangs have been operating in India since ancient times. The gangs of ‘thugs’ usually preyed on travellers or wayfarers while traversing lonely regions that passed through thick jungles. The ‘thugs’ travelled in gangs, large or small, usually un-armed and appearing to be pilgrims, ascetics or other harmless wayfarers.
Dawood is the most powerful, Bombay gangsters having a country wide networks with linkages abroad. He is one of the most powerful gangsters involved in transnational crimes mainly narcotic drugs, smuggling, extortion and contract killing. He has lived in Dubai since 1985. He had a phenomenal rise in short time. Being the son of a Bombay Crime Branch Head Constable, he started off as a petty criminal and had the sympathies of Bombay Police
due to his father’s connections.
Arun Gawli Gang
His gang is involved in the collection of protection money from rich businessmen and contract killings.
Amar Naik Gang
Chota Rajan Gang
Veerappan Gang of Karnataka
Om Prakash Srivastava@Babloo,Gang of Uttar Pradesh
Latif Gang of Ahmedabad
Rashid Gang of Calcutta
Types Of Organised Crime
A. Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking
It is perhaps the most serious organised crime affecting the country and is truly transnational in character. India is geographically situated between the countries of Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent and is a transit point for narcotic drugs produced in these regions to the West. India also produces a considerable amount of licit opium, part of which also finds place in the illicit market in different forms. Illicit drug trade in India centres around five major substances, namely, heroin, hashish, opium, cannibas and methaqualone. Seizures of cocaine, amphetamine, and LSD are not unknown but are insignificant and rare.
Smuggling, which consists of clandenstine operations leading to unrecorded trade, is another major economic offence. The volume of smuggling depends on the nature of fiscal policies pursued by the Government. The nature of smuggled items and the quantum thereof is also determined by the prevailing fiscal policies.
India has a vast coast line of about 7,500 kms and open borders with Nepal and Bhutan and is prone to large scale smuggling of contraband and other consumable items. Though it is not possible to quantify the value of contraband goods smuggled into this country, it is possible to have some idea of the extent of smuggling from the value of contraband seized, even though they may constitute a very small proportion of the actual smuggling.
C. Money Laundering & Hawala
Money laundering means conversion of illegal and ill-gotten money into seeminglylegal money so that it can be integrated into the legitimate economy. Proceeds of drug related crimes are an important source of money laundering world over. Besides, tax evasion and violation of exchange regulations play an important role in merging this ill-gotten money with tax evaded income so as to obscure its origin. This aim is generally achieved via the intricate steps of placement, layering and integration so that the money so integrated in the legitimate economy can be freely used by the offenders without any fear of detection. Money laundering poses a serious threat world over, not only to the only to the criminal justice systems of the countries but also to their sovereignty
D. Terrorism & Narco-Terrorism
Terrorism is a serious problem which India is facing. Conceptually, terrorism does not fall in the category of organised crime, as the dominant motive behind terrorism is political and/or ideological and not the acquisition of money-power. The Indian experience, however, shows that the criminals are perpetrating all kinds of crimes, such as killings, rapes, kidnappings, gun-running and drug trafficking, under the umbrella of terrorist organisations.
E. Contract Killings
The offence of murder is punishable under section 302 IPC by life imprisonment or death sentence. Conviction rate in murder cases is about 38%. The chance of detection in contract kilings is quite low. The method adopted in contract killings is by engaging a professional gang for a monetary consideration.
F. Kidnapping for Ransom
Kidnapping for ransom is a highly organised crime in urban conglomerates. There are several local as well as inter-State gangs involved in it as the financial rewards are immense vis-a-vis the labour and risk involved.
G. Illegal Immigration A large number of Indians are working
abroad, particularly in the Gulf region. Young people want to move to foreign countries for lucrative jobs. Large scale migration is fostered by the high rate of unemployment in the country and higher wage levels in foreign lands. As it is not easy for the aspirants to obtain valid travel documents and jobs abroad, they fall into the trap of unscrupulous travel agents and employment agencies.
Trading in sex and girl-running is a very profitable business in which the underworld plays an important part. Flesh trade has been flourishing in India in various places and in different forms. The underworld is closely connected with brothels and call girl rackets, making plenty of money through this activity. They supply young girls to brothels in different parts of the country, shuttling them to and from the city to minimise the risk of their being rescued. According to a study conducted by the Indian Health Organisation, there are over 1,000,000 prostitutes in Bombay and an equal number in Calcutta. Delhi and Pune have an estimated 40,000 each.
Problems In Control Efforts
Inadequate Legal Structure
There are several difficulties incombatting organised crime. First of all,India does not have a special law to control/suppress organised crime. Being acontinuing conspiracy, the incidents of organised crime are dealt with under the general conspiracy law and relevant specialActs. The existing law is inadequate as ittargets individuals and not the criminal groups or criminal enterprises.Conspiracies are hatched in darkness and proving them in a court of law is a herculean task.
Difficulties in Obtaining Proof
As organised criminal groups are structured in a hierarchical manner, the higher echelons of leadership are insulated from law enforcement. It may be possible to have the actual perpetrators of crime convicted, but it is difficult to go beyond them in the hierarchy because of rules of evidence, particularly, non-admissibility of confessions made by criminals before the police. The witnesses are not willing to depose for fear of their lives and there is no law to provide protection to the witnesses against organized gangs. The informers are not willing to come forward as some kind of stigma is attached to being an ‘informer’.
Lack of Resources & Training
In our Constitutional frame-work, the police are the State’s subject. Investigation of cases, their prosecution and the setting up of the criminal courts is the responsibility of the State Government concerned. Most of the States face a resources crunch and are not in the position to spare adequate resources for the criminal justice system agencies. The number of police personnel posted in police stations is inadequate. Besides, hardly anytraining facilities exist for the investigation of organised crime.
Lack of Co-ordination
India does not have a national level agency to co-ordinate the efforts of the State/city police organisations as well as central enforcement agencies, for combating organised crime. Further, there is no agency to collect, collate, analyse, document and function as a central exchange of information relating to international and inter-state gangs operating in India and abroad. Similarly, there is no system of sustained pursuit of selected gangs at the national and State level. Apart from lack of institutional frame-work, there are problems of coordination between the Central Government and the State Governments and between one State Government and another State Government due to
differences in political perceptions
Criminal, Political & Bureaucratic Nexus
There has been a rapid spread and growth of criminal gangs, armed Senas, drug mafias, smuggling gangs, drug peddlers and economic lobbiests in the country which have, over the years, developed an extensive network of contacts with the bureaucrats, government functionaries, politicians, media persons and democratically elected individuals at the local level. Some of these syndicates also have international linkages, including with the foreign intelligence agencies. In certain States like Bihar, Hryana and Uttar Pradesh, these gangs enjoy the patronage of local level politicians cutting across party lines
The crime syndicates do not respect national boundaries. Certain crimes, particularly drug trafficking, are planned in one part of the world and executed in another. Criminals also move fast from one part of the globe to another. Different nations have different legal structures. A certain act may be ‘crime’ in one country but not in another. To illustrate, money laundering is crime in USA and several European countries but not in India.
The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org