The Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal is planning to introduce an anti-lynching bill in the Assembly, The Times of India reported on Wednesday. The draft bill proposed a maximum punishment of life imprisonment and fines ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.

The West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019, is likely to be tabled in the House on August 30, PTI reported. The draft bill described lynching as any attempt or act of violence by a mob on the “grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other ground”.

The draft prescribed the appointment of a nodal officer for periodic assessment of local intelligence inputs on potential flashpoints, and mandated that lynching incidents be investigated by an officer not below the rank of an inspector. It also called for witness protection and compensation for the lynching victims, adding that any allegation of threats, coercion or inducement to the witnesses must be brought to the notice of court within 24 hours.

Those found guilty of assisting, preventing or interfering with the accused will be punished with imprisonment that may extend upto three years with a fine of upto Rs 1 lakh. The bill also proposed a maximum one-year jail term and a fine up to Rs 50,000 for “publishing, communicating or disseminating offensive material by any method – physical or electronic” and a maximum of three years and fine up to Rs 1 lakh for those who create “a hostile environment for a person or a group of persons”.

On August 5, the Rajasthan Assembly passed a Bill providing for life imprisonment and a fine from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh to those convicted of mob lynching.

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