The state government has initiated the process for invoking provisions of RAJPASA (Rajasthan Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act, 2006) in the high profile Barmer crude oil theft case. “I have consulted with the officials concerned to invoke the provisions of RAJPASA against the petitioner as they were found indulging in oil theft that has affected society at large,” additional advocate general KL Thakur said during the hearing at the Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the petitioners’ counsel has prayed for more time to argue the matter.

Rajasthan Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act, 2006, provides for preventive detention of bootleggers, dangerous persons, drug offenders, immoral traffic offenders and property grabbers for preventing anti-social and dangerous activities.

Enacted by the Rajasthan Assembly on October 6, RAJPASA provides for detention of offenders for up to a maximum of one year. The grounds for detention will have to be disclosed to the detainee within three days of his arrest.

On July 22, the Barmer police unearthed a criminal syndicate accused of smuggling more than 50 million litres of crude oil inside water tankers from India’s largest onshore oilfield in Barmer. The theft at the Cairn India oilfield went undetected for nearly six years until the police arrested 34 people involved in it.

The police claimed that the tanker operators were stealing crude while it was being transported to the processing terminal through tankers from wells.

Considering the high profile scam, the case was handed over to the SOG on July 29.

On September 13, the SOG filed the first 38,411-page chargesheet against the 32 accused under sections 420, 407, 413, 120 B of IPC and 3/7 and 3/8 of EC Act before the chief judicial magistrate court in Barmer.

Meanwhile, on September 30, the SOG arrested two more accused. Of the two arrested, Bhoor Singh Rajpurohit was one of the main conspirators of this highly-organised and prolonged theft. The other person arrested was a tanker owner and driver, Ganesharam, who worked with Narenda Road Liners. The police have so far arrested 36 people in connection with the scam.