Gujarat has been trying to pass a stronger law to attack terror and organised crime for more than a decade now. The Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Bill has been passed over and over in the state assembly, but the Centre, whether controlled by the Atal Behari Vajpayee's BJP-led National Democratic Alliance or Manmohan Singh's Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, had refused to turn it into law.

On Tuesday, the assembly passed the law again –  the fourth time in 12 years – and this time it is hoping that Prime Minister Narendra Modi – who was chief minister of the state while the bill was passed before – will ensure it gets presidential assent and becomes law.

Modi should not allow this, by asking the President not to give his assent. He might have supported the law before, and even criticised the United Progressive Alliance government from standing in its way. But, from Aadhar to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the prime minister has shown that he is willing to adopt a different approach keeping the entire country in mind. And Modi's own experience with the Gujarat Police can help him here.

What is the bill?

Originally named the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Bill (unfortunately abbreviated to GUJCOC), and now rechristened the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Bill, was passed in the Gujarat Assembly on Tuesday, despite an Opposition walkout. The Bill, modeled on the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, aims to give the Gujarat Police much more power when it comes to investigating cases of terror or organised crime.

What are the controversial sections?

If the Bill becomes law, the Gujarat Police would have a number of avenues to go after suspects that aren't normally permitted for authorities.

*Police confessions: the draft law makes confessions before police officers of a certain rank admissible in court, provided that it was given in an atmosphere "free from threat." In most cases, confessions given to anyone other than a judge or magistrate are not admissible, because of the prevalence of torture or a threatening atmosphere.

*Phone tapping: the Bill makes admissible evidence collected "through the interception of wire, electronic or oral communication." The Supreme Court has upheld the right of states to tap phone calls, but these provisions are widely believed to be a gateway for police to illegally record conversations and extort money from citizens.

*Immunity and Impunity: the draft law mandates that "no suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding" can be filed against any officer of the State for anything that is carried out under this Act, as long as it is done "in good faith."

Why was it rejected before?

Presidential assent during the prime ministerships of both Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mamohan Singh was denied to the bill because of concerns that it was draconian and had measures that should not be put in place. President APJ Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil had both refused assent, recommending the state amend the Bill taking away some of the controversial provisions.

Why should Modi stand in its way?

The Gujarat Police doesn't have the most admirable record when it comes to dealing with its own citizens. Leaving aside the numerous allegations attached to them during the 2002 riots and various allegedly fake encouters afterwards, the state police hasn't exactly acquitted itself well since then.

Egregious cases abound.

Consider the occasion when the Gujarat Police picked up a 13-year-old boy from a Delhi slum and illegally detained him while threatening the boy with dire consequences. The Delhi High Court would eventually fine the state police Rs 2.7 lakh for their blatantly illegal actions. In another case, the Gujarati High Court had to intervene after 12 Muslim men were charged with the murder of former state minister Haren Pandya, with the police effectively claiming that a dead body contorted itself to ensure it was shot in a certain way. The court would eventually acquit all 12, calling it a "botched and blinkered" investigation.

And the matter isn't just anecdotal. Between 2001 and 2010, Gujarat came in third among states with 134 custodial deaths after Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, which have much larger populations. The Week identified a secret station in Palanpur, Gujarat, as being one of the many illegal "torture chambers" operated by authorities where police act with impunity.

Terror suspects, who would come under this law, face the worst of this. Human Rights Watch in a report in 2011 documented the pervasive use of arbitrary detention and torture against terror suspects, saying the crime branch of Gujarat Police is one of the worst offenders.

"Some of the worst abuses documented by Human Rights Watch occurred in a lockup of the Ahmedabad Crime Branch of the Gujarat state police, where many detainees allege they were blindfolded and shackled with their arms crossed over their knees from morning to night. According to one former suspect, who feared reprisals if his name were revealed, the screams from detainees began shortly after midnight, alerting him that it was time for his next round of torture," the report says.

The three most important aspects of the new law depend on the Gujarat Police's ability to act in good faith and to ensure an atmosphere that is fair for suspects. Whether it is confessions, phone tapping or simply giving authorities immunity, the record of Gujarat Police does not commend itself to being given such powers.