When we speak of a gang, a picture of a group of people is painted in our minds, who terrorize a certain region with illegal and violent behaviour. The term gang has been defined under Section 2(b) of the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986 as follows:
“a group of persons, who acting either singly or collectively, by violence or threat or show of violence, or intimidation, or coercion, or otherwise, with the object of disturbing public order or of gaining any undue temporal, pecuniary, material or other advantage of himself of any other person, indulge in anti-social activities.”
How Do Organized Crimes Work?
Almost any gang crime is committed with the purpose of boosting one’s wealth. It can be acquired in a number of ways, including via drugs, gambling, and illegal tax avoidance. The gangs often begin through one criminal who draws a few supporters after taking up crime. He is successful in generating funds via his chosen method, i.e., modus operandi, whether it is dealing with contrabands, illegal sale and distribution of goods, or another type of illicit activity. He can bribe the local law enforcement officials, often the police station and customs and excise officers in his region once he has identified himself in that operating area, which is initially relatively limited. This allows him to purchase security for him and his goons. Once this point is achieved, the neighborhood’s other minor offenders congregate around him and take shelter under his watchful protection, either by becoming regular members of his gang or by paying regular protection money while maintaining their anonymity.
But since not all police officers can be bought or are dishonest, they now must find means to subdue these cops if they are to live. Only the powerful politicians have the ability to sway the police or persuade them to take no action. They are the gangs’ primary targets, as a result, who try to win over the politicians either by funding their elections or terrorizing the voters into voting for a certain politician only. This way, they firm their roots even deeper into the society by indirectly controlling the politicians.
The judiciary, which is the last resort for law-abiding citizens, does not provide a good impression of organized crime. The organized gangs and unlawfully abundant crowd is still growing every day. It is safe to estimate that the combined annual revenue of all organized gangs of criminals in India is currently at least Rs. 50,000 crores. Dawood Ibrahim, a crime boss who has become the most wanted in India, has a net worth of $6.7 Billion as of 2022. The mafia can buy just about anyone when they have this kind of money at their disposal, i.e., deep pockets and no dearth of money. There are several cases of top-level parliamentarians that have close ties to the Mafia and are kept in their positions. To sum up, the Dons, the lawmakers, the police, the customs, the income, and partially the legal executive make up the Indian Mafia of today. They have impressively infiltrated each of these offices, at least generously enough to have the option of invalidating any attempts to enforce the law and ensuring the Mafia’s success.
Types Of Gang/Organized Crimes
- Drug abuse and trafficking– This is the most significant organized crime that exists in the nation today and is global in scope. India generates a sizable amount of legalized opium, some of which also appear in various forms on the black market. The five main drugs used in the illegal drug trade in India are opium, methaqualone, cannabis, heroin, and hashish. Although not uncommon, LSD, amphetamine, and cocaine seizures do occur sometimes.
- Money Laundering & Hawala – Money laundering is the process of turning illegally obtained funds into funds that appear to be legal so they may be incorporated into the regular economy and offenders may utilize it freely without worrying about being caught. Money laundering worldwide often comes from drug-related criminal proceeds. Additionally, combining this illegally obtained money with tax-evaded revenue to conceal its source involves breaking exchange restrictions and committing acts of tax evasion.
- Kidnapping for Ransom– Ransom kidnapping is a highly organized kind of crime that takes place mostly in large metropolitan cities. Due to the enormous cash incentives compared to the effort and risk required, many local and interstate gangs are actively engaging in this.
- Smuggling– This is another serious economic offense that involves covert actions that result in unreported commerce. With an almost 7,500 km long shoreline and open borders with Bhutan and Nepal, India is vulnerable to extensive smuggling of illegal goods and other products.
- Prostitution– The underworld is closely connected with brothels and call girl rackets, making plenty of money through this activity. They provide young girls for the above-said purposes to various parts of the country, transporting them to and from the city to reduce the probability of them being freed.
- Contract Killings – Using an experienced gang to kill someone in exchange for money is the approach used in contract killings.
Indian Laws Relating To Gang Crimes
In some shape or form, criminal organizations have usually existed in India. However, due to several socioeconomic, political, scientific, and technological advancements, it has taken on its most aggressive form in contemporary times. Although it does affect rural India, it is mostly an urban problem. Criminal conspiracy is defined under Indian Penal Code Section 120A while Section 120B outlines the penalties for criminal conspiracy.
While these two form the basis, the IPC also defines Dacoity u/s 391 as five or more people conjointly committing or attempting to commit robbery. According to Section 395 of the Code, this offense is punished by life imprisonment or rigorous 10-year imprisonment. Other offenses in the code include:
- Section 399, which imposes penalties for planning to commit dacoity
- Section 402 of the law specifies the penalty for gathering with the intention to commit dacoity.
- The act of belonging to a “gang” of people who are linked with the goal of often committing dacoity is punishable under Section 400.
- The law that punishes kidnapping for ransom, etc., is Section 364-A.
There are certain special laws as well, which have been explained below:
National Security Act (1980)
The Act grants the right of detention to the federal, state, or other officials who have the power to do so in order to prevent someone from causing harm. As a result, it enables the state to detain a person. Typically, a detention warrant is issued for a period of one year. This procedure has been put in place to make sure the person doesn’t act in a way that jeopardizes national security, endangers the military, or harms ties with other countries. This order must be approved by a board that is presided over by a High Court Judge. Since this is an advisory board, it must operate in a manner that takes into account the rights of the individual along with the interests of the nation. Terrorists and gangsters who are worried about leaving the country frequently utilize this Act. No hearing is held during the executive action of detention mandated by the order.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (1985)
This Act mainly strives to curb the trade of illegal narcotics and intoxicants which pose a serious risk to the well-being and health of the society. As a result, this Act gives provisions that permit the detention of those who deal in these goods for business. The Act gives the Central Government, the State Government, or any other officer authorized by the government the right to hold a person in order to stop him from hurting anyone by issuing an order. This incarceration is typically for a year, but in some circumstances, it may be increased to two years.
The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (1987)
This Act was used by the police because it contains a wide definition of what constitutes a terrorist act and can be readily used to prosecute crimes committed by organized gangs. The following are some benefits that the Act gives the police while dealing with gang-related acts:
- Gang crimes are considered terrorist acts under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.
- A police officer with an SP’s rank might be notified of an offender’s confession.
- Investigation continues after 180 days without a charge being filed, while the accused is still in jail.
- No bail is granted before the public prosecutor is heard, and even after the hearing, the court determines that no case has been made out.
Certain other such laws include:
- Public Gambling Act, 1867
- Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
- Customs Act, 1962
- Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973, etc.
Conclusion And Suggestions
The conclusion might be drawn that even though gang crimes have substantially grown in India, the Government has been making efforts to lessen them by putting in place a variety of sensible policies. Nobody is a criminal by birth; people become criminals as a result of their surroundings. Many turns to dubious methods of generating money because they lack education, and resources, are unemployed or are in poverty. As long as there are financial gaps, economic hardship, and lawlessness, society will continue to support gangs and gangsters.
The states must establish an institutionalized coordination framework among themselves to monitor gang crimes. Furthermore, it is clear that it is up to the legal systems to decide whether they want to administer justice themselves or follow the rules of proof and hand it off to the common person. So, although being a challenging task, combating organized crime should be shared by all areas of government.
- Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986, Sec. 2, cl. b.
- Meenakshi Rathore, Gangs and Special Laws Dealing with Gang Crimes in India, 14Ignited Minds Journals 1094 – 1099 (2017).
- Jyoshna Dighe, Organized Crime In India, Legal Service India, http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1290/Organized-Crime-In-India.html.
- Ruchika Jha, Gangs and The Special Laws dealing with Gangs Crimes, Law Times Journal (Mar. 14, 2020) https://lawtimesjournal.in/gangs-and-the-special-laws-dealing-with-gangs-crimes/#:~:text=The%20Central%20Government%20has%20passed,Prevention)%20Act%2C%201956%20etc.
This article has been written by Ayesha Adyasha, a final year law student at Alliance School of Law, Alliance University, Bangalore.