Suspended Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and member of Parliament from Patiala Dharmvira Gandhi has opposed the bill passed by the Punjab assembly on Monday that seeks life imprisonment for those guilty of desecrating Guru Granth Sahib and 10 years in jail in case of other religious scriptures.
While the Shiromani Akali Dal has been projecting the Indian Penal Code (Punjab amendment) Bill, 2016, moved by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, its major achievement, Gandhi said: “Stringent laws are no solution to any problem.”
“As societies and people advance to maturity, civility, tolerance, liberty and democracy, less stringent laws are required to govern them. Enactment of stringent laws only mark our failure to comprehend, understand and decipher the mood and needs of people and lack of ability to govern in more finer and democratic ways,” said Gandhi.
Terming the bill unwarranted and unacceptable, Gandhi said the sudden spurt of unfortunate events of desecration in the second half of 2015 smelt of conspiracy some anti-Punjab forces. Stating that barring a few sporadic incidents, no problem of this magnitude ever existed in Punjab, Gandhi said such offenders should be counselled and reformed by a committee of religious preachers, elders, psychologists and legal luminaries, so that the solution is reformative and not punitive.
Ridiculing the suggestions of Congress legislatives of demanding parity in punishment for desecration of other religious scriptures, Gandhi said they should have opposed the law not just from the discriminatory angle, but from the angle of its scope of arbitrariness and possibility of its misuse in future, which could create more problems than solving the existing ones.