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Bill seeking life term for sacrilege passed by Punjab assembly

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) demanded that Guru Granth Sahib be treated separately as Sikhs consider it a living guru. Akali MLA Gurpartap Singh Wadala cautioned the government “not to play with fire” by politicising religion. Akali legislator Bikram Singh Majithia too echoed same views.

punjab Updated: Aug 29, 2018 10:06 IST
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Bill,sacrilege,life term
The new amendment through Section 295 AA makes acts of sacrilege against all holy books, including Guru Granth Sahib, Bhagavad Gita, Quran and Bible, punishable with life imprisonment.(Representative photo)

The Punjab assembly on Tuesday unanimously has passed the Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018, and The Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018, for making sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and other religious texts punishable with life term.

The Captain Amarinder Singh government took back the amendments passed by the House during the previous regime that made only sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib punishable with life imprisonment.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) demanded that Guru Granth Sahib be treated separately as Sikhs consider it a living guru. Akali MLA Gurpartap Singh Wadala cautioned the government “not to play with fire” by politicising religion. Akali legislator Bikram Singh Majithia too echoed same views.

To this, the CM said that the Union government had sent back the bill on March 16, 2017, saying that the proposed amendments would violate the principle of secularism enshrined in the Constitution of India. It was not possible to give special punishment for desecration of holy book of one religion, he said. The CM said the then attorney general Mukul Rohtagi had told the Centre that secularism was a basic tenet of the constitution and in his view the President may not give his assent to the bill which only criminalises sacrilege of only one religious text.

The new amendment through Section 295AA makes acts of sacrilege against all holy books, including Guru Granth Sahib, Bhagavad Gita, Quran and Bible, punishable with life imprisonment.

Bill to form panel to appoint DGP passed

The Punjab Police (Amendment) Bill, 2018, was passed by the House on Tuesday. It will facilitate setting up of a state police commission to select the state director general of police (DGP) from a panel to be constituted by the UPSC based on the proposal by the state concerned, in compliance with an apex court order.

AAP’s Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu said the new commission should fix tenure for the DGP as in the armed forces and it should have the leader of opposition as well as legal luminaries as its members. To this, the CM said that fixed tenure was not possible like in the military but the commission will have the leader of opposition, a retired judge of the high court or the Supreme Court and two eminent citizens.

Two other bills passed

Punjab Protection of Interests of Depositors’ (in Financial Establishments) Bill, 2018: It makes fraudulent practices by financial establishments a non-bailable offence, inviting up to 10 years of imprisonment with provisions for attachment of properties to safeguard depositors’ interests.

If a finance company fails to return the deposits on due date or defrauds the public, then the promoters, managers and employees would be liable for imprisonment up to 10 years and fine of ₹1 lakh. The financial establishment will also be liable for a fine of ₹2 lakh which may extend to ₹1 crore.

Punjab State Higher Education Council Bill, 2018: The law is aimed at ensuring planned and coordinated development of higher education in the state. The council, to be headed by the CM, will fulfil one of the prerequisites of the next phase of the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan-2 (RUSA) for the state to be eligible for receiving grants under the central scheme.

First Published: Aug 28, 2018 22:40 IST