A year after the enactment of Kerala Anti Social Activities (Prevention) Ordinance providing for preventive detention of known delinquents, goondas are still at large. In fact, the Ordinance and the Act that replaced it subsequently were unnecessary and dangerous legislation. Unnecessary because it would serve little purpose. Dangerous because it could be misused anytime.
The Ordinance was a modified version of the Felonious Activities (Prevention) Ordinance brought by the previous Oommen Chandy Government (United Democratic Front). It was one of the several gimmicks played by that Government to show that it was acting fast when it was left with hardly a year to show results. Crime was mounting and the Ordinance was presented as the answer to that.
When the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government came to power, there was no let up to the operations of criminal gangs. Mr. Chandy, who is now the Opposition Leader, took the Government to task for neglecting his Ordinance. So, the LDF Government also found it expedient to reenact the legislation, which had lapsed. As the LDF had opposed the draconian provisions of the law when in the Opposition, it found a way out by incorporating some provisions that, it claimed, would prevent misuse of the law. But preventive detention is nothing but preventive detection.
The police establishment generally welcomed the measure as they could keep people in custody without taking the trouble of investigating crimes and prosecuting goondas successfully. Now, troublemakers could be held to the whims and fancies or pulls and pressures.
The goonda menace was increasing in the State not because it lacked effectives laws. There are enough laws in the statute book that can be used to put almost anyone in jail. Innocents are not safe if someone decides to use the existing laws deviously. (In fact, the statute book is in need of a pruning.)
The real problem is that the laws are always applied selectively. The reason behind that is the nexus between goons, police and the politicians. The goonda menace is not going to end as along the nexus exists. Harsh laws would increase the stakes but not break the nexus. Only a clean government can break the nexus and end the menace.