Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered strict enforcement of the Punjab Prevention of Damage to Public and Private Property Act in the wake of violence in the aftermath of the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case. The Act, which was notified in June, makes any act of lawlessness, arson or rioting leading to damage to property a non-bailable offence, an official spokesperson said here today.
With the aim of preventing such violence, he said, stringent provisions have been provided in the Act including with the guilty liable to imprisonment and fine, as well as payment of compensation. The conviction of the Dera on August 25 head triggered arson and violence across Haryana that claimed 38 lives and injured over 250 people. The violence also spilled over into neighbouring Punjab, Rajasthan and Delhi.
The law provides that no person, accused of an offence punishable under this Act, shall, if he is in custody, be released on bail on furnishing his bail bond unless the prosecution has been given opportunity to oppose the bail application. The offence committed under this Act, shall be cognizable.
In the case of damage caused to property by fire or explosive substance, the imprisonment may be extended to two years and fine may go up to Rs 3 lakh under the provisions of the legislation. Further, the offender will be liable to make payment of an amount equivalent to the loss caused to the public or private property, as determined by the competent authority.
It is provided in the law that notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the videographic version of the damaging act recorded on the spot, will be considered as sufficient evidence of the offence, it said. Under the provisions of legislation, ‘damaging act’ includes an agitation, strike, hartal, dharna, bandh or demonstration or march or procession or blockade of rail or road traffic by which any damage or destruction is caused to any public or private property, the spokesperson said.