Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said the state Cabinet has approved amendments to the Indian Penal Code to make sacrilege of all religious texts punishable with life imprisonment in order to preserve communal harmony.

The Cabinet approved the Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018, and the Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018, PTI quoted a government spokesperson as saying. The amended bills will be tabled in the upcoming Assembly session.

“The Cabinet has approved insertion of section 295AA to the IPC to provide that whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwad Geeta, Holy Quran, and Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people, shall be punished with imprisonment for life,” said the spokesperson.

He added that the Punjab Cabinet also agreed to withdraw the Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2016, and the Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2016. Passed by the previous state government of Shiromani Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party alliance, they sought life imprisonment for the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib. The Centre had objected to the amendment and asked the state to not limit it to the desecration of the holy book of one religion.

In June 2016, more than 250 people were booked in Malerkotla after pages of the Quran were reportedly found in the town. A year before that, at least four incidents of the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib were reported from different parts of the state, with the Central Bureau of Investigation probing three of them.