Friday, April 08, 2005

Goonda Act

if i Think about Kashmir and the bus, there's always Agha Shahid Ali in my head.

so am posting 'work' related stuff on the blog.
this is thoughts on googling the goonda act.

would be interested on what people have to say about this.

On Monday, while scanning through Screen, I came across the following

CCCA threatens indefinite theatre strike
Thursday, April 07, 2005

'Santosh Singh Jain, President of the Central Circuit Cine
Association, has expressed anguish over the failure to curb piracy in
the said territory rising from the inability to force the provisions
of the Copyright Act, 1957 and Cable Television Networks Regulation
Act and its rules.
'This has resulted in the illegal exhibition of latest releases on
cable in defiance of rule no. 6 and sub rule no. 3 notified by the
Union government's Information & Broadcasting Ministry on September 8.
Under this newly inserted rule, no cable operator and service provider
can exhibit any programme including films without obtaining written
consent from the copyright owner. Jain has threatened that 1,800-2,000
theatres in the Central Circuit will go on indefinite strike if the
state government fails to take immediate steps akin to the action
taken by the Tamil Nadu government by enforcing the Goonda Act against
film pirates.'

What interested me was the familarity with the 'law', or at least,
with legalese) reflected in this following statement. ('defiance of
rule no. 6 and sub rule no. 3 notified by the Union government's
Information & Broadcasting Ministry on September 8.') What was more
interesting was the Goonda Act, which I hadn't heard of before. So I
googled 'Goonda Act', and to my surprise the first thing I Got was,

'Seer fears arrest under Goonda Act'

Speaking exclusively to on Thursday, the pontiff's lawyer,
M N Krishnamani, said: "We simply fail to understand [Tamil Nadu] CM
Jayalalithaa. Now, we have been told that the seer will be arrested
under the Goonda Act, which is just as stringent as POTA [Prevention
of Terrorism Act] was."

A law as stringent as POTA. And later I read Coomi Kapoor in the
Indian Express who informs us that -

Indian Express
Sunday, December 12, 2004
'Jayalalithaa has become the heroine of the film world with both
southern superstars, Rajnikant and Kamal Hasan, hailing her at a
function in her honour after she clamped down on video piracy. Those
caught for video piracy in Tamil Nadu are now booked under the Goonda
Act which is a non-bailable offence.'

A law as stringent as POTA. Also used to arrest those suspected of
murder. And a non bailable offence. Now I don't know law at all, but
this all sound rather dire.

Further googling got me the following articles, indicating, along with
the initial piece from Screen, a sort of ripple effect, a desire to
emulate similar laws in the neigbouring states of Karnataka, Kerala,
Andhra Pradesh by those involved in the film trade. And of course, in
the Central Circiut, as Screen informs us –

Film piracy may come under Goonda act
Friday, March 11, 2005
'The State government is likely to bring video and audio cassette
piracy under the purview of Goonda Act, on the lines of neighbouring
Tamil Nadu, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) President H D
Gangaraj announced on Thursday.

'Speaking to reporters in Bangalore, he said that the increase in the
number of video and audio piracy cases has been a cause for concern
for the entire film industry. Due to piracy, producers and
distributors are incurring a huge loss, he added.'

Malayalam film industry's tragedy script continues

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

'The prime reason the industry is heading towards disaster is video
piracy, which has taken a huge toll on its profitability.
"By the time a new release arrives at the theatres, the video CDs of
the film would also have reached vendors. Look at Tamil Nadu, they
included video piracy under the Goonda Act three months back and
people are now flocking to the theatres," Unni said.
"During Diwali in Tamil Nadu, several new films could not be released
because old ones continued to run strong in the theatres making them
unavailable for releases," he said.'

Telugu film industry to set up monitoring cells to curb piracy
The Hindu Business Line, Wednesday, Sep 29,2004
'Mr G. Adiseshagiri Rao, President of AP Film Chamber of Commerce, told
Business Line that the Chamber would study the Tamil Nadu's latest
move to curb the piracy menace.
The Tamil Nadu Government had decided to bring piracy into the ambit
of Goonda Act. "We will study it and see what we can emulate from it,"
he said.
"Even the Union Government has agreed to help out, the Minister for
Information and Broadcasting, Mr S. Jaipal Reddy, said the Government
would bring out an amendment to the Copy Rights Act to slap stringent
punishments on the offenders," he said.'

Looked at one way, it is as if Tamil Nadu is an epicentre from where
waves of approval/demand for this law are radiating outwards – from the
Southern states to the Central Circuit – at least among those who
exhibit/produce/ distribute films. Aarti has asked us recently, how does
the law circulate? And this 'demand' for the law is an interesting example
of circulation, wishing for a provision of law to exist, where it doesn't.
This seems particularly interesting in the case of the demand from the
Central Circuit Cine Association, and its very legalistsic demand. For,
according to my limited knowledge, the Goonda Act is not in force in the
territories of the Central Circuit.

Dealing with goons -- surface level and source level
GULF TODAY, December 25, 2003
'The Pocket Oxford Dictionary of Current English gives two meanings for
the word "goon:" stupid person; hired ruffian. It categorises the word as
slang and indicates that it is of uncertain origin. Actually it is one of
the many Indian words that crept into the English language during the days
of the Raj. It is a modified form of the Hindi term "goonda," which means
gangster. This term and a derivative "goondaism" are widely used in Indian
English. They figure regularly in the local media.
Goondas have been in the news continuously in Kerala in the recent past as
they are active in many cities. They [the police] want the state to enact
a law on the lines of the Goonda Act in force in the states of Tamil Nadu,
Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. The Act empowers the police to extern
goondas from the cities. Last week Chief Minister AK Antony, yielding to
pressure from the police, announced the government's willingness to enact
a Goonda Act. The Goonda Act, as it exists in other states, is
specifically directed against organised urban crime. It allows the city
police to proclaim a habitual offender a goonda and order him out of the
city for a specified period.'

Even if the Goonda Act is not in force in states apart from Tamil nadu,
Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, it cerntianly has an imaginative reach
over a wider swathe. I am thinking here of the term 'Tadipaar' (as in the
title of the 1993 Mithun Chakraborty film). The word Tadipaar specifically
connotes those who have been extradited outside city limits. A word which
cannot exist without the existence of the law in public consciousness. I
am sure there are earlier histories of the law which I will be very glad
if people on the list will expand on.

But what is the imagination of the goonda, for which the law is
formulated? I return here to writings on the extended Shankracharya/
Sankaraman murder case, which is a really strange parralel to the video
pirates – both in terms of the chronology, and the perhaps extreme
extension of the law.

Seer case: TN violated SC directive on Goonda Act
Thursday, February 17 2005
'the detention of Kanchi Mutt Manager Sundaresa Iyer and Raghu, brother of
junior Shankaracharya Vijayendra Saraswathi, both accused in the
Sankararaman murder case under the Goondas Act appears to be a clear
violation of a Tamil Nadu Government's recent directive on detentions
under the stringent law.
The circuclar had been issued in the light of observations made by the
Supreme Court which held in a case that, a solitary instance of robbery,
as mentioned in the grounds for detention under the Goondas Act in a
criminal case, was not relevant for sustaining the order of detention for
the purpose of preventing the persons from acting in a manner prejudicial
to the maintenance of public order, an official said on condition of
The circular also gave a defenition of Goondas Act which said, "Goonda
means a person, who either by himself or as a member of or leader of a
gang, habitually commits or attempts to commit or abets the commission of
offences, punishable under some sections of IPC including intimidation,
robbery and annoyance.”

The Hindu, perhaps noticing the prevalence of the term Goonda in much
statist and media discourse, also asked the question, “Who is a Goonda?”

Get to know the goonda, here and now
Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Feb 02, 2005
The common man is obviously in a hurry to get to know the goonda. And an
indication of his ubiquitous curiosity has been showing in my inbox with
strange `subject' lines such as, `goonda who,' and `help with goonda,'
though I've been shift-deleting these mails as spam. In atonement,
therefore, here is some guidance on the subject.
Who is a goonda?
Goonda means a person, who either by himself or as a member of or leader
of a gang, habitually commits or attempts to commit or abets the
commission of offences, punishable under Chapter XVI or Chapter XVII or
Chapter XXII of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860.
Is there a Goonda Act?
In fact, the legislation has a long name: "The Tamil Nadu Prevention of
Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug-offenders, Forest-offenders,
Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Slum-grabbers and Video Pirates Act,
1982." However, it's common to use the shorthand `Goondas Act' in news
bulletins, so as not to offend listeners' interest. Goonda Acts, as listed
in the IPC's chapters, include `offences against the human body' such as
murder, `offences against property' such as dacoity, and `criminal
intimidation, insult and annoyance.'

Till the amendment, announced last September, the act actually read, “The
Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers,
Drug-offenders, Forest-offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders,
Slum-grabbers Act, 1982.” Pretty tough on your friendly neigbourhood video
pirate, no?

Perhaps as an aside, I want to mention other categories who have come
under the Goondas Act -
Human Rights Watch

According to a Dalit activist working in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin
districts, Tamil Nadu, many “young, educated youths” were also detained
under the Tamil Nadu Goondas Act during the southern district clashes in
1997.254 A goonda is defined as a habitual criminal, usually associated
with a criminal gang.

According to the Policy Notes of the Prohibition and Excise Department,
Tamil Nadu Government, Video Piracy was put into the Goondas Act, because
it is an act prejudicial to the maintanence of public law and order(?) It
would be interesting to see the arguments that are marshalled by the state
in support of this. This could be an interesting extension of Mayur's
work. Also, it would be interesting to compare the debates around public
law and order with regards to the cinema, in the 'defence 'of which this
amendment was passed. I am thinking here of the work of SV Srinivas – 'Is
there a public in the cinema hall?'

Government of Tamil Nadu
Prohibition and Excise Department
Policy Note, 2005-2006

Video piracy is an act prejudicial to the maintenance of public law and
order. Due to this video piracy, the film industry has been facing severe
crisis and the Producers, Distributors and Theatre owners have been put to
loss of revenue. Representatives from various associations have pleaded
for the eradication of this menace, and requested to put the film industry
on the revival path. The Hon’ble Chief Minister ordered to amend the Tamil
Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug-offenders,
Forest-offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Slum-grabbers
Act, 1982 (Tamil Nadu Act 14 of 1982) to detain the video pirates under
the said Act with a view to preventing them from acting in any manner
prejudicial to the maintenance of public order. This Act came into force
from 1st October 2004.

TN announces sops for film industry
The Hindu, Tuesday, Sep 28, 2004
THE Tamil Nadu Government has announced a package of measures supporting
the film industry, including tightening of legislations to prevent piracy
and tax concessions and subsidies.
According to an official statement, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms
Jayalalithaa, said that the Government would amend the Tamil Nadu
prevention of dangerous activities of bootleggers, drug offenders, forest
offenders, goondas, immoral traffic offenders and slum grabbers Act, 1982
(Tamil Nadu Act of 14 of 1982) to include video pirates.
The Government would also stringently enforce the Copyright Act, 1957 (Act
14 of 1957 - Central Act). This provides for penalties including
imprisonment up to three years and a fine of up to Rs 2 lakh.
The video piracy cell would also be strengthened and six more cells would
be added to the existing six cells, the statement said.
While ensuring that pirated video films are not exhibited in State-owned
transport buses, the private operators have also been given strict
instructions to not to exhibit such cassettes.
The Tamil Nadu Exhibition of films on television screen through video
cassette recorders and cable television network (Regulation) Act, 1984
(Tamil Nadu Act 7 of 1984) would also be amended to make penalties more
stringent including providing for imprisonment up to two years and fine of
a minimum of Rs 1 lakh.
Entertainment tax applicable to Municipal Corporation areas and Special
Grade Municipalities will be brought down to 15 per cent from 25 per cent
of gross payment for new films and 10 per cent for old films, which were
earlier subject to 20 per cent. This will also be applicable to permanent
and semi-permanent theatres within a radius of 5 km.
In other areas where the tax is levied on a compounding basis per show or
week, a simple system of 10 per cent on gross payment would be introduced.
To protect the revenue of the local bodies, which receive 90 per cent of
the revenue from entertainment tax, an alternative compensation
arrangement will be made, the statement said.
Low budget films with "good themes useful for social mobilisation and
propagating good values" will qualify for entertainment tax exemption.
Cinemas can now collect maintenance charges of 50 paise for non-air
conditioned halls and Re 1 for air-conditioned ones.
The Government has granted three-year exemption from sales tax on lease
transactions of outdoor units, equipment hirers, studios, laboratories,
recording theatres, audio, video and satellite rights, which now attract
12 per cent. It has also decided to withdraw penal action to recover sales
tax on such leases.
Rates for shooting films in various locations have also been slashed. For
Category-I locations such as colleges, sanctuaries and Kodaikanal and Ooty
lakes the charge will be cut to Rs 10,000 a day from Rs 50,000, and for
shooting at Rajaji Hall (in Chennai) the fee will be Rs 25,000 against Rs
1 lakh charged earlier.
For Category-II locations, which include other public places, the charge
will be Rs 5,000 a day against Rs 25,000.
The State Government has also decided to grant a subsidy of Rs 7 lakh to
low-budget films with a maximum of 25 prints and length of up to 3,000
metres. To be introduced with effect from 2003, the scheme will be
implemented at an annual cost of Rs 2 crore, the statement said.'

Now it seems a bit extreme to book someone under the Goonda Act for
showing films on a video coach. Lawrence has just written in to Ritika
(forwarded on to the PPHP list) to say that this amendment is currently
being challenged because the State government does not have the power to
act on a Central subject, ie The Copyright Act(?) Now, I may have got the
details of that wrong, but it certianly seems that the legality of the
amendment is currently being challenged. But the legality nonwithstanding,
the act of announcing the Goonda Act seems to have had immediate
repurcussions in Tamil Nadu, as well as ripples of approval outside the
state. Prior to 'legality'. Prior even, it seems, to enforcement.

Video pirates vanishing
Almost all video/CD parlours in the city have closed down since their
business was thriving mainly on pirated copies of movies. As there are no
takers for pirated CDs of latest movies, the CD-writing concept has also
become defunct, says S. Vijay Kumar.

EVEN BEFORE the police started enforcing the amended laws to curb video
piracy, the clandestine activities of pirates, flourishing in the city for
decades, have suddenly vanished.
Video parlours and compact disc shops downed shutters hours after the
Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug
Offenders, Forest Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and
Slum-Grabbers Act, 1982, was amended enabling the law enforcing agencies
to detain video pirates.
Thousands of youth involved in the CD writing business at undisclosed
centres have closed down. Omni bus/van operators have switched off
television sets since the amendments to the Tamil Nadu Exhibition of Films
on Television Screen through Video Cassette Recorders and Cable Television
Network (Regulation) Act, 1984, now provides for punishment with an
imprisonment up to two years or fine which shall not be less than Rs. one
lakh but which may be extended to Rs.five lakhs or with both.
Almost all video/CD parlours in the city have closed down since their
business was thriving mainly on pirated copies of movies. As there are no
takers for pirated CDs of latest movies, the CD-writing concept has also
become defunct.
According to the Inspector (Video Piracy), M.S.M. Abdul Rahim, Madurai was
the gateway for the circulation of pirated CDs to the southern districts.
The Meenakshi and Pondy Bazaar localities, which were notorious for the
sale of such CDs, had quit business. "We have plugged all gaps. The video
pirates know that the new law is severe and habitual offenders can also
been detained under the Goondas Act," he says.
Though the "master prints" of pirated versions originally came from
Chennai, hundreds of illegal operators made copies of such CDs. "It just
needs a computer, CD-writer and a few gadgets to make these pirated CDs.
The cost of production per CD would be sometimes less than Rs. 15," Mr.
Rahim says, adding that an elaborate plan had been chalked out to prevent
the video piracy industry from resurfacing.
Interestingly, the number of movie-goers is said to have gone up since
early October. The collection for movies such as `Vasool Raja', `Gajendra'
and `M. Kumaran son of Mahalakshmi', have gone up after a brief slump, say
cinema theatre owners.
However, police officials say video piracy cannot sustain without the
connivance of some persons in the film industry. "The original print has
to either come from the movie halls or laboratories. Some producers even
sell copyrights to foreign dealers to double their profits. However, it
boomerangs since the pirated versions land in the State hours later," says
another police official.'

I am left finally with a set of images, all of which seem to be linked
with the Goonda Act.
The first is of Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan congratulating Jayalalitha. I
am remembering Rajnikanth's copyrighting/patenting(?) of his own actions
after the release of Baba. Wasn't Baba a 'political' film specifically
against Jayalalitha? (I may be completely mistaken about this.) Why is it
that the whole anxiety about copyright and piracy is playing out in such
an extreme fashion in Tamil Nadu rather than anywhere else? (Is it becuase
the state is ruled by a former film-star?)
Then the arrest of the Shankracharya and the whole sordid mess that
follows. then the killing of Veerapan. All linked now with the ubiquitous
Goonda Act. As is the figure of the Tadipaar – exiled from his own city.
And the figure of the video 'pirate'.

There are linkages here that i don't want to draw. I am hoping someone
else will draw completely different ones, and clarify some of the
confusions I have about the Goonda Act.
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