Author: Nancy Pare

Co-Author: Nisha Pasari

Faculty of Law, Jamnalal Bajaj School of Legal Studies, Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan (Jaipur)

ISSN: 2581-8465


From the ancient Gangsters known as Thugs and Pindarees to the extortionist of today, the evolution of organized crime in the world’s second most popular country, India has been developing since the decades. It’s a nation of a billion people, where the traditional and modern live side by side, in the chaos of which, thrives a deadly underworld. The roots of the mafia in India have been into far more luxurious and glamorous businesses rather than what such gangsters around the globe are associated with. Even India’s dream factory Bollywood, which is the world’s most prolific film industry, has its very own dark side i.e. its deep ties to organized crime. Mafia has developed into a network of organized crime not only within the country but is also active internationally. From corruption, dacoity, arms trafficking, tax evasion and loan sharking, such criminal clusters are also tangled in offenses such as murder, racketeering, gambling, money laundering, and extortion, etc.

This paper highlights these sophisticated networks of organized crime which annually drains approximately billions of money from the global economy by such illegal and unlawful means and how the army of young impoverished men run by their powerful bosses has set up the network of this crime in our country. It analyzes the nature, development, and activities of organized crime rooted in India. The findings of the paper will throw light upon Mafia in India, their diversification in various states and their establishment as the biggest organized crime networks in the world. 


Homo Sapiens” is the name given to those distinctive creatures on this planet that harm and kill their very own species for their own continued existence. A human being experiences an urge to kill another human being in every civilization, but very few act upon it. They do so for a variety of reason such as anger, hatred, envy, and greed. No living creature other than human being harms its own consanguinity for such reasons but to protect and safeguard their children.

We can find instances and tales of terrible cruelty committed by kings, warlords and other individuals which includes human sacrifices on the name of religion, kidnapping, eating up of human brains for increasing intelligence, bonded labor, and other such activities for amusement in the history of mankind not so long ago. But today, the environment we live in is very safe and protected. There are laws and regulations which protect humans from a variety of these crimes and police to enforce such laws. Since independence, India has witnessed a huge change in social as well as economical conditions. It is an irony that despite being the land of Gautama Buddha who was known worldwide for their teaching of peace, the crime rate in India has been gradually increasing over time. As of 2017, Delhi has the highest cognizable crime rate of 1050 (per 100,000 persons) and Uttar Pradesh has the highest incidence of crime based on a percentage of share.[1]


Technically, organized criminal group shall mean a “structured group of three or more persons existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offenses established pursuant to this Convention, in order to obtain, directly, or indirectly, a financial or another material benefit.”[2] Generally speaking, the term OC has always been used to indicate that professional criminals distinguish themselves not only by the efficient and business-like way in which they commit certain crimes but also by the close relations they have amongst themselves. In the way things were looked at, they formed with each other a separate social world: an illegal, undesirable, despicable world an underworld, with its own hierarchical relations, its own division of rights, duties and tasks, its own language and so on[3]

There are basically six prominent types of OC in India:

  • Money-Laundering
  • Asset Misappropriation
  • Counterfeiting and Contraband
  • Fraud and Extortion
  • Human Trafficking
  • Cybercrime
  1. Inception Of OC

During Ancient time i.e. from 13th to 19th century AD, thuggee was operated in India which is known to be as the birth of organized crime in India. These were the organized group of people belonging to a particular religion and performed ritualistic assassinations for the sake of goddess kali. In India OC can be traced back to the groups of thuggees; the historical reference to the thugs is made in the history during Firoz shah period written by Zia-ud-Bami in the year 1356.[4] They performed the crime which involved teamwork to a huge extent which is the same as what we call organized crime groups today.

The Thugs were a well-organized confederacy of professional assassins who traveled in various guises through India in gangs of 10 to 200, worming themselves into the confidence of wayfarers of the wealthier class; When a favorable opportunity arose, the Thug strangled his victim by throwing a yellow scarf or Rumal (symbolic of Kal Bhairab (Bhairav)) around the neck, and then plundered and buried him.[5] All these forms of crime could only be stopped when there was a special police force was established by British before independence.

In 1830, J.C.Sleeman directed the operations of suppressions of Thuggees, Sleeman estimated that annually about forty thousand people lost their lives on-die roads in the country due to Thuggees. Sleeman and his band of officers curbed the activities of die organization and broke up the gangs with the support of Lord William Bentick, the reports prepared in 1840, showed that 3,689 thugs were committed for the trial of whom 466 were hanged, 1,564 transported for life, 933 imprisoned for life and 56 taken as approvers.[6] But some professional criminals could not put themselves up in that surrounding and hence continued to commit offences such as dacoity and theft. On the other hand, Zamnindari demanded an army of such people for the daily chores. This kept the gangs alive.


The inception of modern organized crime in India is accredited to the liquor ban decision of Maharashtra government during late fifties, when the imposition of the order was very strict. It is very interesting that in America too, organized criminal gangs were formed after the liquor ban in 1920.

Liquor has always been a commodity that has been irresistible by rulers in the past as well as the present government. This legislation was considered simply impossible and quite ambitious as liquor has been the part of our culture since ages and the addicts could not easily give it up. As a result of such a decision, number of secret distilleries were set up to meet the needs and demands of people. As the commodity was banned, its prices were limitless. Hence, a large number of petty and local criminals took the charge of production and sale of illicit liquor with the profit motive.

Seeds of organized criminal activities were sown in Bombay i.e. present-day Mumbai which then were spreader across many other states of India. Vardha Bhai, Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Rajan, etc are few underworlds dons who can actually be recognized. Varadarajan Muralidhar aka vardha bhai is known to be the man who led the formation of criminal gangs that carried out organized crime activities in India. These criminal gangs expanded themselves over time and had become so powerful that they thought that they could terrify any person for their wants. These gangs were then involved in running brothels, gambling, and loan recovery.

The gangs were remote-controlled by their leaders which were the only mastermind for activities and safeguard their members. Each family of OC is headed by one man, the “Boss,” whose primary functions are maintaining order and maximizing profits[7]

According to a study about growth of OC in India and America, few conditions; social, economical and political have been revealed which exists fueling the growth of such crimes:

  • Demand for illegal goods and Services existed
  • Irresponsibility of the agencies that was responsible for enforcement of such legislation.
  • Political support to the criminal Gangs

Basically, ORGANIZED crime is collective result of commitments, knowledge and actions of three components; a criminal Gang, the Protectors and the Specialist Support.[8]

  • Vardha Bhai

Vardharajan Muralidhar aka vardha bhai emerged as the first prominent gang leader during the time when liquor was strictly banned in Maharashtra. It seems very interesting that he started his career as a coolie in Mumbai and turned out to be a bootlegger. After the liquor ban, many small gang leaders and local criminals came forward and took over the illicit business of illegal production and smuggling of liquor.

 Then emerged few gangs of local rowdies who were indulged in the business of illicit distillation. Vardha bhai smartly came forward in order to protect these gangs and then started illicit distillation in the outskirts of Bombay. He had contacts with the officers of almost every department including airways and municipality which helped him to conduct the production and smuggling smoothly. In the eyes of people, he was a typical godfather as he always helped the people either by employing them in their gang or providing protection through his gang. He died after he lost against the Bombay Police and Vardharajan Gang was then dismissed in the lack of an able leader.

  • The D-Company

The son of a Bombay police constable, Dawood Ibrahim worked with the Pathan gangs of Alamzeb and Amirzada whom he liquidated smoothly in order to emerge as a supreme leader in Bombay. But he had to leave Bombay in 1985 due to increased police pressure and other threats. Dawood by this time had, not only established his supremacy in Bombay but had also established his contacts with other transnational criminals, bureaucrats and politicians both inside the country and outside.[9]

Mumbai underworld was sharply highlighted when the connections of Dawood Ibrahim were found with the Pakistani ISI at the time of Mumbai Serial Bomb Blasts.

  • Situation in other parts of India

These Mumbaikar Dons were role models for other gang leaders in other parts of our country.

Talking about other parts of the country, Gujarat has a good coastal line and is convenient for smuggling.  Hence, the gangs of Gujarat are involved basically in the activities of smuggling arms and RDX. These activities were actually started on a large scale after the demolition of Babri Masjid During L.K Advani’s rally.

Basically, ORGANIZED Crime in Gujarat is considered as an exrtension of the Mumbai Underworld. Similarly in Bihar, the scenario was a bit different as there were crucial steel and coal industries and the castes prevailed. For instance, Rajput gangs do not take up the supari to kill any other rajput person. These are the upper caste gangs whereas there are Yadav Gangs who once dominated the Coal Industries. The local mafia manages to get the steel contracts into the hands of their people by bribery or the other means. Thus, politically, they are also supported. Kidnapping for ransom and killing is very common in the state. In Uttar Pradesh too, there are organized crime activities like killing on contract, kidnapping for ransom, land and property grabbing and extortion. Establishment and growth of the gangs in the state was result of major political instability in the state during 90s. There is extortion called, “Goonda Tax”, killers are hired and kidnapping takes place. There are such famous gangs, Babloo Shrivastava Gang and Shri Prakash Shukla gang associated in the Uttar Pradesh. 


OC is a phenomenon that has become a worldwide threat. OC acts as a spur for various other criminal and violent activities, OC in one or the other way is affecting all the sectors of society. If overlooked OC rifts social consistency, detached families, besmirched organizations and will rescind the most vital social and economic drapery of our humanity. OC poses a huge threat to democratic governance and constitutional provisions all around the globe.

  • Impact on individual and family

People suffer through emotional and mental due to fear of crime. People’s discernments of crime are molded by several aspects in present scenario. While the perceptions held by some individuals may be well-founded, others may be at less personal risk than they actually believe.[10] Many a time’s people end up becoming drug and alcohol addict in order to get rid of fear of crime. As fear becomes manifest in avoidance and antisocial patterns of behavior, sociability; mutual trust; a willingness to help others; and a sense of belonging and satisfaction in one’s neighborhood and community eventually disappears.[11]It can be seen that the youth aged 15-20 year of are the ones who can influence and be influenced by crime most easily.

  • Impact on Economy

India is going to rise but the rate of the rise may be different but it’s going to be determined by the rate of its economic growth. Billions of funds are drained due to the illegal acts of OC gangs as huge amount of revenue is lost.

  • Impact on Political System

The first political impact of organized crime affected the sovereignty of the country i.e. ignores the legal system of that particular country which resulted in dividing up the territories, it also harms the economic development of a state. It doesn’t respect the boundaries as far as their unjust business is concerned. OC has also created some illegal routes in order to violate the economy as it promotes the illegal flow of goods and services.

OC also harms the political scenario or culture of a state. It affects the social atmosphere of democratic societies. They originated and had a single aim of surviving within the security of the state but with success in illegal business and its growth resulted in new demands in social, political, economic sphere i.e. the desire of the criminal leaders to get included in the social elite from which they have been excluded. This deviant collective confront the central government and supranational institutions.

OC can promote corruption in different ways in democratic society i.e. corrupt legislative, executive and judiciary. Its main impact is on the financial sector of the Government. It even provokes the economic imbalance and if it lasts for a long time it can damage international competition resulting in financial degradation.

  • Security of State

In the case of security, the discussion is about the pursuit of freedom from threat.

When this discussion is in the context of the international relations, security is about

The ability of states and societies to maintain their independence and their functional


When we talk about national security it mainly gyrates nearby Crime or threat of any type, when it builds barrier for the smooth running and proper functioning of the state and society. OC does not prosper at the stable conditions they are usually stable at normal situations but at times of economic or political turbulence, they can grow easily as they can easily communicate and transport to the wobbly zones due to unfastened controls.

Globalization, on one hand, has benefitted the nation by increasing external trade whereas on the other hand has created the OC gangs threat all-round the world. Moreover, with the cashless economy, the risk of cybercrime is also increasing side by side.


Organized crime has been operating among states, regions and transitional levels and hence, general procedures of Cr.PC, which is generally applicable in these cases, are not sufficient to locate mafia. Therefore, a special procedure of investigation has been provided under The Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA) to help Investigating Officers to conduct an effective investigation. But there are few problems faced by investigating officers in this regard which are as follows:

Views of Investigating Officers in Mumbai and Delhi in various tables in this chapter reveals that despite special provisions of investigation including the admissibility of intercepted communication of organized crime offenders, extended remand time, admissibility of confession before the police officer, investigation of organized crime cases by the officer equivalent to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, etc. could not help much to the Investigating Officers in conducting an effective investigation of organized crime cases.

Non-cooperation from the public, lack of eyewitnesses, lack of scientific aid to crime investigation, lack of skilled Investigating Officers, lack of knowledge about provisions of MCOCA, time-consuming procedure to seek permission from the competent authority for interception of communication of suspects, moving suspect from one State to another and even to abroad makes the job of Investigating Officers difficult. They find it difficult to nail the actual culprit because organized crime offenders are working in a highly secretive manner with each layer being highly insulated with one another.

It keeps the identity of the gang leader secret. Moreover, Investigating Officers face great challenges due to ambiguous legal procedures while registering a case under MCOCA against suspects because they find it difficult to establish a linkage of suspects with organized crime gangs.


Due to the conspiratorial and complex nature of organized crime in India, it is very challenging for public prosecutors and judges to initiate proceedings and carry on trying and other procedures involved in sentencing the criminal. Special provisions for prosecution and trial have been provided under MCOCA. Special Judges and Special Public Prosecutors have been designated in Mumbai (3 Judges) and Delhi (9 Judges).

Provisions have been provided under MCOCA to hide the identity of witnesses secret but, the provisions are not implemented due to lack of infrastructure and manpower. Proving conspiracy and establishing nexus between the accused and syndicates is very difficult for Public Prosecutors and Judges. Ambiguity in the definition at various sections under MCOCA has also created confusion in the mind of Public Prosecutors and Judges.

They found it difficult to pronounce appropriate sentences against the accused. As a result, the conviction of organized crime offenders is very difficult. It may be concluded that Public Prosecutors and Special Judges should be provided adequate training, infrastructure and skilled manpower to implement provisions of the special legislation effectively.

  • Analysis of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA)

The main aim of MCOCA was to control the mechanism the organized crime consortia. MCOCA was established on 20th Jan in Delhi and the act consist of 30 sections among which some of the important ones related to investigation trial and condemning of organized crime cases have been discussed below:

  1. Generic Definition

OC is defined under section 2 (e) of MCOCA; OC is a misdemeanor which must be committed on behalf of the consortium and the act must be unlawful and more than two or more people should be involved in the activity, who may either work individually or in groups ( Section 2 (f) of MCOCA).

  • Contradiction between section 2 (1)(d) and Section 9(2) of MCOCA

Section 2(1) (d) and Section 9(2) of MCOCA is contradictory as according to Section 2(1) (d) the punishment for OC (cognizable offence) should be more than three years whereas Section 9(2) states that if any offence is being looked upon by the Special Court and if it the punishment is imprisonment not exceeding three years than the court may deal the offence in the summary matter. So, this creates chaos among the Criminal Justice Functionaries whether wrongdoing punishable for less than three years should be tried under MCOCA or not.

  • Overlapping between MCOCA and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)

Section 2 (e) of MCOCA states that OC is an offence which is basically done with pecuniary benefit motive or intention. MCOCA basically deals with the control and prevention of the crime rate committed by the organized crime gangs within India and its main aim is to reduce the OC wide range.

Whereas the purpose of UAPA is to deal with the terrorist groups and its specific unlawful and illegal activities, which are performed in order to create a sense of threat or terror among the people and also creates a threat to integrity and sovereignty of India (Section 15 of UAPA).

  • Ambiguity regarding cognizance of offense and filling two charge sheets

As per definition under section 2(1) (d) of MCOCA, more than one charge-sheet should have been filed against a person before his case is considered for investigation under MCOCA.

  • Stringent bail provision

Under section 21(4) of MCOCA accused cannot be released on bail unless; (a) the Public Prosecutor has been given an opportunity to oppose the application of his release; and (b) where the Public Prosecutor opposes the application, the Court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the suspect is not guilty of organized crime and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.

  • Cognizance by Special Court

Under section 9(1) [13] MCOCA, cognizance can be taken by Special Court on receiving a complaint of fact or on the police report.

Finally, it could be determined that in spite of few shortages MCOCA is a very useful lawmaking and after its enactment, Criminal Justice Functionaries felt that crime had been meticulous in the city of Mumbai (informed by experts).

  • Role Of INTERPOL In Investigation Organized Crime Cases

Interpol stands for International Criminal Police Organization which helps in control of crime and cooperation of Police anywhere in the world. This organization has a very important role in the organized crime control worldwide. In the cases of transitional organized crime, it helps the member nations to cope up with the situation and analyses different activities of OC taking place in various nations and helping them to get expert advices in the field. It also helps member countries in investigating organized crime across borders.

  • Role Of Extradition Laws

In the world’s largest democracy, extradition procedure is governed by the Extradition Act, 1962. It helps in:

  1. Extradition of fugitive criminals from India to foreign States.
  2.  Extradition of fugitive criminals from foreign countries to India.

The nature of the act is very flexible and its jurisdiction is wide in order to cope with the criminals across borders. The Act has many provisions in order to bring back criminals to their nation for trying and sentencing them.


  • Maharashtra government should impose strict administration orders in order to control the free entry of criminals from seaports and amendments should be made in international trade rules.
  • As most of the OC crimes offenders under MCOCA were indulged under IPC and Armed Act cases, therefore, it is recommended that authorities related to these must be properly trained and must be provided with modern gadgets and secret funds to handle this cases, strict firearms authority should be recruited and Security forces at borders should be increased.
  • Creating awareness about the consequences and impact of OC among the youth. People must get new employment opportunities so that they do not get involved in such acts.
  • Time taking and lengthy legal proceedings must be looked and appropriate administrative guidelines should be imposed.
  •  The witness is a supreme pillar in MCOCA so they must be given extra security and video conferencing facilities should be made available in the Special courts as the witness does not need to go to court.
  • President of Bar Councils of concerned States should be sensitized about the issue. Bar Council of India should frame rules so that lawyers seeking frequent adjournments may be debarred from fighting elections for the post of the president/secretary of Bar Council.[14]
  • For snowballing improved collaboration, INTERPOL should come to the operative aid of exaggerated countries. Keeping in sight that INTERPOL is encumbered and hackneyed it is the phase to set up provincial units of INTERPOL.
  • An amendment should be made in Section 29 of the Extradition Act so that accused cannot be discharged on the basis of political grounds without proper justification.
  • It is recommended that the required amendments should be made in MCOCA to remove the loopholes.

Organized crime is an occupation that has incorporated globalization .It is constantly looking for various new routes, markets, areas to establish and flourish their crime networks .Criminal gangs have no doubt learned to take full advantage of globalization for establishing their network worldwide.

The nature, extent and impact of OC may differ from state to state but none of them are immune. Since the very inception of OC it has been continuously growing , generally they are stable but at times of economic and political instability they flourish as they get many advantages.

Criminal Justice Functionaries have been going through a lot of teething troubles while investigating and prosecuting and sentencing organized crime offenders in India as their crime networks are so wide that it is really very difficult to trace them and in case they are traced, their contacts with big politicians and famous people helps them to get out of this trap.

Regardless of special legislation in state of Maharashtra the problem still continues in India, especially in Mumbai and Delhi. The leaders of OC are not being traced and officers are facing difficulties in finding still after framing special procedure of investigation under MCOCA. Similarly the Special Judges and Public Prosecutors are facing problems to prosecute OC offenders due to negligence on the part of defense lawyers who does not perform their duty duly.

Thus, it may be summed up that the complete elimination of OC in not realistic, but it can be controlled by appropriate investigation, prosecution, sentencing of crime cases under MCOCA in India. And in order to achieve the control the Judges and Public Prosecutors must take personal interest upon the matters and give their best efforts.

Protection of witness should be ensured as they are the basic pillar in criminal trial. Criminal Justice Functionaries must be provided with modern gadgets, skilled candidates, well-built infrastructure. Amendment should be made in MCOCA and the contradiction must be looked after so that Justice System could function smoothly without any chaos. Dedicated efforts should be made by Maharashtra and Delhi Government and Criminal Justice Functionaries to confiscate the dreaded malevolent from the society.

[1]   “Crime in India 2016” National Crime Record Bureau

[2] United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000, Article- 2(a)

[3] Adamoli, Sabrina, AndreaD Nicola, Ernesto U. Savona and Paola Zoffi, ORGANIZED Crimes around the World.

(Helsinki, Finland: United Nations, 1998), p.4.

[4] S.Venugopal Rao, Facets of Crime in India, (New Delhi: Allied publishers private Ltd., 1962),p3

[5] Colonel James L. Sleeman, Thug: Or A Million Murders, World Wide. World e-Book Library, Public Access


[6] Mr. James Mutton’s book, “A popular Account of the Thug and Dacoit,” published in 1857, as quoted in

Colonel James L. Sleeman, op., cit,n.37, p.92.

[7] Donald RCressey, member of the Federal Task Force on OC, U.S.A. explained his version of the structure of

xzOC unit, the “Monopolistic Corporation” called the family.

[8] J S Albanese; President Commission on organized Crime 1986

[9] NeerajKumar, I.P.S., ‘Elaboration of a Convention against Transnational ORGANIZED Crime’, paper presented

at the fourth session of the ad hoc Committee of the UN

[10] Grabosky, P.N., “Fear of Crime and Fear Reduction Strategies”, in Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal

Justice, No.44, Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 1995, pp.1-6

[11] Clemente, F, and Kleinian, M.B, ‘Tear of Crime in the United States: A Multivariate Analysis”, Social Forces,

Vol.56, No.2, The University of North Carolina Press.1977, p.523.

[12] John Baylis, International Security in the Post-Cold War in The Globalization of World Politics (Oxford:

Oxford University Press, 1999) p.195

[13]  Section 9(1) of MCOCA provides that whenever an order authorizing interception is issued pursuant to this section, the order may require reports to be made to the Competent Authority who issued the order showing that progress has been made towards achievement of the authorized objective and the need for continued interception. Such reports shall be made at such intervals as the Competent Authority may require


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