Punjab cabinet okays bill for life term in all sacrilege cases
The Punjab cabinet, led by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, on Tuesday approved amendments to Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and Indian Penal Code (IPC) to make sacrilege of all religious texts punishable with life imprisonment.
Two earlier bills amending CrPC and IPC passed by the Punjab assembly in 2016 during the previous SAD-BJP regime had mandated life imprisonment for sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib. The bills were tabled in the aftermath of over hundred incidents of desecration of the holy book in various parts of the state since 2015.
However, they were returned by the Union home ministry to the state government after being found to be violating the principle of secularism as mentioned in the Constitution of India. In the new bill, Section 295AA will be inserted in the IPC to provide that “whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to the Guru Granth Sahib, the Bhagvad Gita, the Quran and the Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people, shall be punished with imprisonment for life”.
Under the existing provision, Section 295A of the IPC makes acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class punishable by imprisonment of three years.
The government described it as a major step towards curbing such incidents and maintaining communal harmony in the state. The Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018 and Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018 will be tabled in the assembly session that begins from August 24.