This article is written by Pooja Vijay Sursure of 2nd Year of SNDT Law School, Mumbai
This article provides a straight forward overview of organized crime, its effects, and the difficulties it poses. It explores the origins, structure, and activities of organized criminal groups, shedding light on their wide-reaching influence on society. Through accessible language and examples, this study uncovers the factors that contribute to the rise and persistence of these criminal networks.
The article begins by tracing the historical roots of organized crime, from its early beginnings to the complex syndicates we see today. It explains how these groups organize themselves, whether in strict hierarchies or looser networks, and highlights the roles of key individuals within their ranks.
Moreover, the article examines the range of criminal activities undertaken by organized crime, such as drug trafficking, human smuggling, and cybercrime. It explores how these illegal operations affect economies, communities, and people’s lives, emphasizing the detrimental impact they have on global security and stability.
Furthermore, this study discusses the challenges faced in combating organized crime. It highlights the need for international cooperation, intelligence sharing, and targeted law enforcement efforts. The article emphasizes the importance of legislative measures and strategies to disrupt and dismantle these criminal networks effectively.
By providing a clear and accessible overview of organized crime, this article aims to enhance understanding and awareness of this pervasive issue. It offers insights that can support the development of informed policies and effective measures to address and counter organized crime’s enduring threat to society.
Keywords- Gang, Gangsters, Crimes, Criminal, Conspiracy, TADA, Special Laws.
Gang crimes have become a pressing issue in many communities, as criminal gangs perpetrate a wide range of illegal activities that threaten the safety and well-being of individuals. These gangs, often characterized by their hierarchies and distinct codes, operate in various ways to carry out their criminal endeavors.
In this article, we will explore the world of gang crimes, delving into the workings of gangsters and the intricacies of their criminal activities. We will examine the factors that contribute to the formation and growth of gangs, such as socioeconomic challenges, limited opportunities, and the allure of power and belonging.
Furthermore, we will shed light on the problems associated with gang crimes, including violence, drug trafficking, extortion, and intimidation. These activities not only pose direct threats to individuals but also have broader societal implications, affecting community safety and cohesion.
In addressing the challenges posed by gang crimes, we will discuss potential solutions and strategies. This includes effective law enforcement approaches, community-based interventions and educational initiatives aimed at prevention and rehabilitation. By understanding the underlying causes, consequences, and potential solutions, we can work towards mitigating the impact of gang crimes and fostering safer environments for all.
Through this article, we aim to raise awareness, promote understanding, and encourage collective efforts to address the multifaceted issue of gang crimes. By analyzing the working of gangsters, examining the problems they pose, and exploring potential solutions, we can make strides towards creating safer communities and helping individuals break free from the cycle of gang-related criminality.
What is gang?
Gang is one in which two or more persons work together in a particular manner to carry out a purpose. It is carried on by the gang members or the persons of the Association and help each other to commit the crime. The primary object of this gang is to make money by illegal means.
Federal law defines the term “Gang” as an ongoing group, club, organisation or association of five or more person: A) that one of its primary purposes the Commission of one or more of the criminal offences described in subsection (c); (B) the members of which engage or have engaged within the past five years In a continuing series of offences describe him subsection (c); and (C) the activities of which affect interstate or foreign commerce.[i]
Since these acts are committed by individuals act as a gang or group in a systematic manner which is called Gang Crimes and oftenly known as Organised Crime. The core of these organised crime is to supply illegal goods and services to numerous citizen customers and deeply involved in legal as well as illegal businesses and labour unions. To concentrate illegal profit, it employs unlawful methods such as terrorism, extortion, monopolisation and tax evasion; in India which includes contract killing, bootlegging, prostitution, smuggling, drug trafficking, illegal arms trading, money laundering where they assist brute forces and violence.
What is the history of organised crime?
There is a long and complex history of organised crime in India it has rooted in various social political factors we can find its roots in pre-independent and post-independent era.
Nowadays we call organised crime it has the form of street gang. Socio economic imbalance, high levels of poverty and exploitation gave birth to the organised crime in India. The notable crimes were Dacoity, thugee, gambling and protection rackets.
Even after the independence the scenario of organised crime didn’t change a lot. There was the rise of Mumbai Underworld led by influencing figures like Karim lala, Haji Mastan and later Dawood Ibrahim gained significant control over various illegal activities including extortion, smuggling, gambling and trafficking of narcotics and later it extended to Bollywood industry. The political connections caused violent gang wars between rival criminal groups for control over lucrative criminal enterprises these criminal organisations formed alliances with political parties and leading to the emergence of a Nexus between organised crime and politics. Due to the diverse borders and extensive coastline of India criminal networks engaged in smuggling of goods such as arms, narcotics, precious metals and contraband items. Organised crimes expanded into illegal mining operations particularly in resources rich regions such as Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. With the advancement of technology there arised cybercrimes and financial frauds engaging in activities like online scam, hacking, identity theft and data breaches.
The post independence era in India, starting from 1947, witnessed the evolution of organised crime in response to new social, economic and political dynamics.
What does the law say?
Organised crimes has always existed in India in some form or any another. It has, however, assumed its malignant form in modern times due to political and socio-economic factors and advancement in science and technology. Even though rural India is not immune from it, it is basically an urban phenomenon.
In India there is no comprehensive law to control organised crime in all manifestations and dimensions. There is, however substantive law regarding criminal conspiracy and penal provisions in various statutes against specific violations of those statues.
A. Criminal Conspiracy[ii]
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 pursuance thereof.
Sec. 120-B of the India Penal Code provides for punishment for criminal conspiracy.
The punishment for the conspirator is the same as for the principal offender. It may, however, be emphasised that the criminal conspiracy by itself is a substantive offence. The conspiracy need not fructify and the mere proof of the existence of the criminal conspiracy is adequate to have the criminal punished for such criminal conspiracy.
Dacoity & related offences
In India one of the oldest forms of crime is dacoity and is committed purely for the purpose of extortion and looting.
- Sec. 391[iii] of the Indian 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’.”
- Sec. 395[iv] of Indian Penal Code:
Dacoity is punishable with imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years and 5 months.
- Sec. 399 of Indian Penal Code also criminalises preparation to commit dacoity.
- Sec. 402 of Indian Penal Code criminalises for assembly for the purpose of committing dacoity.
- Sec. 400 of Indian Penal Code criminalises the act of belonging to a ‘gang’ of persons associated for the purpose of habitually committing the dacoities. The punishment is quite severe and may even extend to life imprisonment.
- Sec. 401 of Indian Penal Code criminalises the act of belonging to a gang of thieves.
- Sec. 364-A in the Indian Penal Code provide stinging punishment for kidnapping for ransom.
- The amended Sec. 364-A in the Indian Penal Code-
“Whoever kidnaps or abducts any person or keeps a person in detention after such kidnapping or abduction and threatens to cause death or hurt to such person, or by his conduct gives rise to a reasonable apprehension that such person may be put to death or hurt, or causes hurt or death to such person in order to compel the Government or any foreign State or international inter-governmental organisation or to do or abstain from doing any act or to pay shall be punishable with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine”.
C. Law on gangster
There is no central legislation to repress gang activity having countrywide applicability. The state of Uttar Pradesh enacted Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act,1986, which is applicable in that state only.
Sec. 3 of this Act- Any gangster is punishable with minimum imprisonment of two years and may extend to 10 years.
This act has a wide canvas and appears to cover large areas of organised criminal activity. Though there is no firm data available to access its effectiveness. Due to inadequate investigations and inordinately delayed trials by the court, this legislation has not been able to make any crater on the criminal landscape of the state.
D. Special Laws
Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act[v]
The “Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act” (TADA) was an Indian law enacted in 1987 with the objective of countering terrorism and certain disruptive activities in the country. TADA provided law enforcement agencies with enhanced powers to investigate, detain, and prosecute individuals involved in acts of terrorism and organized crime.
Under TADA, the term “terrorist” referred to any person who committed or participated in certain offenses listed under the act, which included acts of terrorism, conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, and support to terrorist activities. The act defined “disruptive activities” as any act or activity that disrupted the sovereignty, integrity, or security of India, including actions that promoted or supported secessionist movements.
TADA granted special powers to law enforcement agencies for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of these offenses. These powers included provisions for the admissibility of confessions made to police officers, extended periods of detention without filing formal charges, and the establishment of special TADA courts for the trial of TADA-related offenses.
However, TADA faced criticism and concerns regarding human rights abuses and misuse of its provisions. It was eventually repealed in 1995 due to these concerns and replaced by other laws such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
National Security Act, 1980[vi]
The National Security Act (NSA) of 1980 is an Indian legislation that grants the government and law enforcement agencies the power to take preventive measures and detain individuals without trial in order to ensure national security and maintain public order. The act allows for the detention of individuals who are deemed a threat to national security, public order, or essential services. District magistrates or commissioners of police can authorize such detentions if they are satisfied that the person’s activities are prejudicial to the objectives of the act. The initial maximum period of detention under the NSA is three months, but it can be extended up to twelve months with approval from the state government. Detained individuals have the right to make representations against their detention to an advisory board constituted under the act. The NSA also provides for limited judicial review, where the advisory board reviews the grounds of detention and submits recommendations to the state government. However, concerns have been raised about potential misuse of the act and its implications for civil liberties.
Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act)[vii]
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) is an Indian law that deals with offenses related to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. While the primary objective of the NDPS Act is to control and regulate drugs, it also has implications for organized crime.
In the context of organized crime, the NDPS Act provides authorities with the necessary tools to combat drug trafficking, manufacturing, and other drug-related offenses. Organized crime syndicates often engage in the illegal drug trade as a lucrative source of income. The NDPS Act allows law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute individuals and organizations involved in such activities.
The NDPS Act includes provisions for the seizure, forfeiture, and disposal of assets derived from drug-related offenses. It empowers law enforcement agencies to conduct searches, make arrests, and gather evidence against individuals involved in drug trafficking. The act also prescribes stringent punishments, including imprisonment and fines, for various drug-related offenses.
Overall, the NDPS Act plays a crucial role in combating organized crime by targeting the drug trade and disrupting the activities of criminal networks involved in drug trafficking. It aims to dismantle the financial infrastructure of organized crime groups and reduce the availability of drugs in society.
E. Other Laws
There are some of the central statutes in India that directly address organised crimes. Are as follows:
● Public Gambling act, 1867.
● Immoral Traffic (Prevention) act, 1956.
● Customs Act, 1962.
● Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973.
● The Organised Crime Control Act (now repealed): The Organised Crime Control Act, 1992.
● The Special Court (Trial of Offences Relating to Transactions in Securities) Act, 1992
● The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA).
● The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).
● The National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 (NIA Act).
Additionally, state governments have their own specific laws and acts to tackle organized crimes within their own jurisdictions.
Some prevalent organised criminal gangs in India
There is ancient history of criminal gangs in India. While traversing lonely regions like jungles and deserts the gang of ‘thugs’ usually preyed on travellers or wayfarers or pilgrims then they were looted and murdered. The Dacoity was a serious danger in some parts of the country, particularly in Chambal ravines in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Dacoit leaders like Man Singh became legends in their lifetime due to their Robin Hood image.
In India, there are several criminal gangs that have operated in different regions over the years. It’s important to note that gang dynamics and influence changed over time, and the prominence of specific gangs varied. Here are some examples of major gangs that have been historically active in India:
The Dawood Ibrahim gang, commonly known as the D-Company, is one of the most infamous criminal organizations in India. Led by Dawood Ibrahim, who is believed to be residing in Pakistan, the gang has been involved in various illicit activities. It is notorious for its involvement in organized crime, including drug trafficking, extortion, arms smuggling, and terrorism. The D-Company is known for its international reach and connections, operating not only in India but also across several countries. The gang’s activities have had far-reaching implications, impacted law enforcement efforts and posed significant challenges to national security.
Chhota Rajan Gang
The Chota Rajan gang, led by Rajendra Nikalje, also known as Chhota Rajan, was a notorious criminal organization operating primarily in Mumbai, India. The gang emerged as a rival to the D-Company, led by Dawood Ibrahim. Chhota Rajan gained notoriety for his involvement in various criminal activities, including contract killings, extortion, and smuggling. The gang had a significant presence in the Mumbai underworld and engaged in violent clashes with rival groups. Chhota Rajan’s gang was known for its strong network and was involved in several high-profile criminal cases. However, in recent years, Chhota Rajan has been arrested and faces legal proceedings.
Karim Lala Gang
The Karim Lala gang was one of the prominent criminal organizations in Mumbai, India, during the mid-20th century. Led by Karim Lala, also known as Abdul Karim Sher Khan Pathan, the gang operated primarily in the underworld of Mumbai. Karim Lala was involved in various illegal activities, including smuggling, extortion, and gambling. The gang had a significant influence in the city and maintained a network of criminal activities. Karim Lala’s gang played a crucial role in the Mumbai underworld during that era, with his name often associated with the organized crime scene of the time.
Veerappan Gang of Karnataka
The Veerappan gang was a notorious criminal organization led by Koose Munisamy Veerappan, an elusive and notorious sandalwood smuggler and bandit. The gang operated primarily in the dense forests of the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala in southern India. Veerappan, often referred to as “India’s Most Wanted Man,” was involved in a range of criminal activities, including sandalwood smuggling, poaching, kidnapping, and extortion.
The gang’s notoriety stemmed from their audacious acts and ability to evade capture for years, engaging in violent encounters with law enforcement agencies. Veerappan’s gang was responsible for the deaths of numerous police officers, forest officials, and civilians. The gang’s activities also had a significant impact on the local communities and the conservation of wildlife in the region.
After a prolonged manhunt, Veerappan was finally killed in an operation conducted by the Special Task Force in 2004
Rashid Gang of Calcutta
The Rashid Gang of Calcutta refers to a criminal gang that operated in Calcutta (now known as Kolkata), West Bengal, India. The gang was led by a criminal named Rashid Khan. They were involved in various criminal activities, including extortion, kidnapping, and illegal gambling. The Rashid Gang was known for its organized structure and influence in the local criminal underworld. They had a reputation for using violence to control their territories and expand their criminal operations.
Mumbai Serial Bombings (1993)[viii]
The Mumbai serial bombing case of 1993 refers to a series of coordinated bomb blasts that rocked Mumbai, India’s financial capital, on March 12, 1993. The bombings were orchestrated by the D-Company, led by fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim, in collaboration with other criminal associates. The blasts targeted multiple locations, including prominent landmarks, the Bombay Stock Exchange, hotels, and crowded marketplaces, resulting in widespread destruction and loss of life. The coordinated attacks were carried out as an act of retaliation following the communal riots that occurred in Mumbai earlier that year. The Mumbai serial bombing case remains one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in India’s history, claiming the lives of hundreds of people and leaving a lasting impact on the city.
Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi (1991)[ix]
The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India, on May 21, 1991, serves as a tragic case study. During an election campaign rally in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a Sri Lankan separatist group. The case highlighted the devastating consequences of political violence and the threats posed by terrorist organizations. It led to a significant investigation, subsequent legal proceedings, and increased security measures in the country.
Babri Masjid Case (1992)[x]
Babri Masjid case primarily revolved around the demolition of the mosque in 1992. The demolition was considered a criminal act by the authorities, leading to charges of conspiracy, incitement of violence, and destruction of public property. Numerous individuals were accused of being involved in the planning and execution of the demolition.
The criminal investigation and subsequent legal proceedings aimed to identify the culprits responsible for the destruction of the mosque and hold them accountable. Over the years, several individuals, including politicians, religious leaders, and activists, were charged and tried in connection with the criminal conspiracy.
It is important to note that the legal aspects of the Babri Masjid case encompassed both civil and criminal dimensions, with criminal charges being specifically related to the demolition of the mosque.
The Taj Attack (2008)[xi]
The Taj attack was a part of a criminal conspiracy in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Ajmal Kasab and other militants from Lashkar-e-Taiba planned and executed the attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The conspiracy involved extensive planning, training, and coordination among the attackers. Their objective was to cause widespread destruction, loss of life, and instill fear. Kasab’s capture and subsequent trial provided critical evidence of the broader conspiracy. The investigation aimed to uncover all involved individuals, establish their roles, and ensure accountability for the criminal conspiracy behind the Taj attack and the broader Mumbai terror attacks.
Problems in combating organised crime
A. Inadequate legal structure
There are several difficulties in combating organised crime. First of all, India does not have a special law to control or repress organised crime. The existing law is inadequate as it targets individuals and not the criminal groups. Misuse of the existing provisions such as sect. 438 of the CrPC provides for anticipatory bail even in heinous offences.
Lengthy trials and low conviction rate
There is a well-known maxim ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’. The pace of trials is very low. The percentage of conviction is still lower. Therefore, people are losing faith in the efficiency of criminal justice system have become negative, impulsive and no cooperative in control efforts.
C. The lack of resources and training
The lack of resources and training for law enforcement agencies poses significant challenges in combating organized crime. Insufficient funding limits the acquisition of advanced technology, equipment, and personnel necessary for effective investigation and enforcement. Inadequate staffing levels strain police forces, leading to increased workload and decreased response capabilities. Limited training opportunities hinder the development of specialized skills required to tackle evolving crime patterns. This can result in a knowledge gap and an inability to effectively gather intelligence, conduct proactive operations, and implement innovative strategies. Addressing these issues requires increased investment in law enforcement agencies, providing adequate resources, and prioritizing comprehensive training programs to equip officers with the necessary tools and expertise to combat organized crime effectively.
D. Lack of Co-ordination
The lack of coordination among central and state agencies presents a significant challenge in combating organized crime. Due to the division of powers between the central and state governments, there can be jurisdictional issues and overlapping responsibilities, resulting in gaps and inefficiencies in tackling organized crime. Inconsistent information sharing, poor communication channels, and a lack of unified strategies hinder effective collaboration. Coordinating efforts, intelligence sharing, and joint operations become challenging, allowing criminals to exploit jurisdictional boundaries. Addressing this challenge requires enhanced cooperation, clear delineation of roles and responsibilities, the establishment of effective communication channels, and the development of joint task forces to ensure seamless coordination and a unified approach in combating organized crime.
E. Double criminality
Double criminality, in the context of organized crime, refers to the requirement that an act must be considered a crime in both the requesting and requested countries for extradition or mutual legal assistance to be granted. This principle poses challenges in prosecuting and extraditing individuals involved in organized crime due to variations in criminal laws across jurisdictions. The absence of identical legal provisions may hinder cooperation and hinder efforts to hold offenders accountable. To overcome this challenge, countries engage in bilateral or multilateral agreements, harmonize laws, and establish common definitions to facilitate cooperation in combating organized crime and mitigate the impact of double criminality.
F. Criminal, Political and Bureaucratic Nexus
The criminal, political, and bureaucratic nexus refers to the interconnected relationship between criminals, politicians, and government officials. It represents the collusion or cooperation among these sectors, often for mutual benefit or to further their own interests. This nexus involves criminals exploiting their connections with politicians and bureaucrats for protection, favors, or to continue illegal activities. Politicians may engage in corruption or illicit practices to gain support or maintain power, while bureaucrats can be complicit in facilitating criminal operations or accepting bribes. This interplay undermines the rule of law, erodes public trust, and poses challenges to effective governance and combating corruption. Breaking this nexus requires strong anti-corruption measures, accountability, and institutional integrity.
• Strengthen Legal Frameworks: Enhance and update legislation to specifically target organized crime, including provisions for asset forfeiture, witness protection, and combating money laundering and corruption. Establish stringent penalties and effective legal mechanisms for investigation, prosecution, and conviction of organized crime syndicates.
• Improve International Cooperation: Foster strong international collaboration and information sharing among law enforcement agencies to track and dismantle transnational criminal networks. Strengthen extradition treaties and mutual legal assistance agreements to facilitate the extradition and prosecution of criminals across borders.
• Enhance Intelligence and Investigation Capabilities: Invest in advanced technology, training, and intelligence gathering to proactively identify, monitor, and disrupt organized crime activities. Develop specialized units and task forces dedicated to combating organized crime, equipped with the necessary resources and expertise.
• Community Engagement and Awareness: Foster community partnerships to promote trust, cooperation, and information sharing between law enforcement agencies and the public. Encourage citizens to report suspicious activities and provide protection and support to witnesses willing to testify against organized crime groups.
• Target Illicit Finances: Implement robust measures to track and disrupt the financial networks of organized crime, including stricter regulations on money laundering, improved financial intelligence capabilities, and coordination with financial institutions to detect and report suspicious transactions.
• Strengthen Border Security: Enhance border control measures to prevent the cross-border movement of illicit goods, drugs, and weapons. Invest in advanced surveillance technologies, training for border personnel, and intelligence sharing among border agencies.
• Empower Anti-Corruption Efforts: Implement robust anti-corruption measures, promote transparency, and strengthen institutions to prevent infiltration of organized crime into political and bureaucratic spheres. Establish effective mechanisms to investigate and prosecute corruption cases involving public officials.
• Focus on Rehabilitation and Social Programs: Address the root causes of organized crime by implementing comprehensive social programs, education, and rehabilitation initiatives to steer individuals away from criminal activities and provide viable alternatives.
Organized crime poses a formidable challenge to societies worldwide, undermining the rule of law, jeopardizing public safety, and eroding trust in institutions. To combat this complex phenomenon, a multi-pronged approach is essential. It requires a combination of robust legal frameworks, enhanced international cooperation, intelligence-led investigations, community engagement, and targeted efforts to disrupt illicit financial networks.
Efforts to combat organized crime must be comprehensive, adaptive, and continuously evaluated to stay ahead of evolving criminal tactics. It necessitates the involvement of law enforcement agencies, governments, communities, and the private sector working collaboratively towards a common goal.
However, eradicating organized crime requires more than just enforcement measures. Addressing the social, economic, and political factors that contribute to its rise is equally important. Investing in education, social programs, and rehabilitation initiatives can help break the cycle of crime and offer individuals alternative pathways away from criminality.
Ultimately, the fight against organized crime requires a collective commitment to preserving the rule of law, protecting communities, and upholding justice. By combining strong legal measures, international cooperation, community resilience, and social interventions, we can dismantle criminal networks, restore public trust, and create safer and more secure societies for generations to come.
[ii] Defination and punishment for Criminal Conspiracy< https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-7841-criminal-conspiracy-section-120-ipc.html
[iv] Punishment for Dacoity at< https://devgan.in/ipc/section/395/#:~:text=Description,also%20be%20liable%20to%20fine.
[x] M Siddiq (D) The. Lrs. v. Mahant Suresh Das & Ors), 2018 (II) SCALE 667 at< https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-6481-2019-supreme-court-verdict-on-ayodhya-dispute.html
[xi] Mohammed Ajmal Amir kasab v. State of Maharashtra, (2012) 9 SCC 1 at< https://indiankanoon.org/doc/193792759/