The Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Thursday passed a Bill for recovery and redressal of damage to public and private properties during protests by a voice vote and without any debate, PTI reported.
The Madhya Pradesh Damage to Public and Private Property Recovery Bill, 2021, was tabled by Home Minister Narottam Mishra. Congress MLAs staged a walkout complaining that Leader of the Opposition Kamal Nath did not get a chance to speak on the resolution related to the Other Backward Classes reservation in the state.
“Those who thrown stones from their houses and cause damage to public and private property will now come under the ambit of law,” Mishra said, The Indian Express reported. “They will not be spared. This Bill has also been brought in so that anti-social elements and those causing riots will now fear the law.”
If Governor Mangubhai Patel approves the Bill, Madhya Pradesh will become the third Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state after Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to formulate such a law.
Uttar Pradesh had approved an ordinance in March 2020 to recover damages from Citizenship Amendment Act protestors. Haryana had passed a Bill for the recovery of damages in March this year amid the farmers’ protest against the three agricultural laws.
The Bill’s provisions in Madhya Pradesh allow authorities to recover penalties from those who encourage and abet acts that result in the damage of public or private properties.
According to the Bill, the state government can form a claims tribunal headed by a retired district judge or a retired secretary to recover the cost of damages during protests. The tribunals can order the recovery of double the amount of damages incurred by an individual or the government.
If the compensation decided by the tribunal is not paid within 15 days from the date of order, the accused person will be even liable to pay interest over the compensation amount.
During a trial, once the prosecution succeeds in proving that a public property was damaged in direct actions called by an organisation in which the accused also participated, the court can draw a presumption that the accused person is guilty of destroying public property too, the Bill states.
From this stage of trial, the onus of proving innocence will be on the accused person.
The cases before the claims tribunal will be resolved within three months and the affected parties can challenge the order only in the High Court, according to The Indian Express.