Dera Sacha Sauda followers attacking vehicles on the Zirakpur-Kalka highway on August 25, 2017, after sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted in Panchkula. State home minister Anil Vij said the Bill has been brought on public demand to protect property. (HT file photo)
Dera Sacha Sauda followers attacking vehicles on the Zirakpur-Kalka highway on August 25, 2017, after sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted in Panchkula. State home minister Anil Vij said the Bill has been brought on public demand to protect property. (HT file photo)

Haryana passes recovery of damage to property Bill amid Opposition protest

The Bill provides for recovery of damage to property caused during agitations besides the constitution of a claims tribunal
By HT Correspondent, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON MAR 19, 2021 02:45 AM IST

Amid loud protests by the opposition, the Haryana assembly on Thursday passed the Haryana Recovery of Damages to Property During Disturbance of Public Order Bill. The Bill provides for recovery of damages to properties caused by persons during agitations, including riots and violent disorder.

It also provides for constitution of a claims tribunal to determine the liability, assess the damage and award compensation.

Even as Speaker Gian Chand Gupta went through the process to pass the Bill by a voice vote in the assembly, the Congress MLAs assembled in the well of the House, raising slogans, waving copies and seeking the withdrawal of the Bill.

Earlier, home minister Anil Vij, who introduced the Bill, tried to allay speculation that it was being brought in view of the ongoing farmers’ protest. “People protest peacefully. But what if someone damages public property?” he said.

Bid to suppress farmers’ protest: Cong

When Congress MLA Raghuvir Singh Kadian said this bill raised suspicion about its necessity and the intent of the government. “It is something similar to the three central farm laws and it has been brought in such a situation that it raises suspicion. The word instigator used in the Bill strengthens our view that it is a vindictive piece of legislation in the offing. Withhold this Bill and refer it to a select committee,” he said.

Leader of opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that the Bill talks about “deterrence in the minds of people”. “This is being done to scare people from protesting. Peaceful protest is every citizen’s right. There are already legal provisions pertaining to damage caused to property. What about the responsibility of the police in not being able to control law and order?” Hooda said.

Congress MLA Kiran Choudhry said the perception is that this law is being brought to suppress the farmers’ agitation. “The government first brought a resolution to condemn those who boycott them and now this Bill has been tabled. This is a draconian law having sweeping powers to frame innocent people,” she said.

Vij, however, said all such theories were the products of the minds of Congress MLAs. “The enactment of this law was on our mind well before the farmers’ protest. Should we allow people’s homes to burn? Are you with the rioters or against them? This Bill has been brought on public demand,” he said.

Hooda, however, replied that they support the farmers and peaceful protesters. “Why cases have been registered against farmers when the home minister himself said they haven’t done anything? Please withdraw this Bill,” he said.

Ensures fixing of civil liability: CM

Chief minister ML Khattar said protecting property is the duty of the state government. “We will continue to do it?” he said. The chief minister clarified that the existing provision in the Indian Penal Code pertained to fixing criminal liability but this law only ensures fixing of civil liability.

Independent MLA Sombir Sangwan said the IPC already provided for punishment for rioting and damaging public property. “This law is not required enacted, and it will be misused. Remember, the farmers’ agitation will not end by this law,” Sangwan said.

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