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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Haryana tables Bill to recover damages to property during protests, riots

Soon after the Bill was introduced, senior Congress member R S Kadian questioned its timing amid amid the ongoing farmers' agitation.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
March 16, 2021 12:44:57 am
Home Minister Anil Vij tabled the Haryana Recovery of Damages to Property during Disturbance to Public Order Bill, 2021 in the House. (File)

The Haryana government on Monday tabled in Vidhan Sabha a Bill seeking recovery of damages to public properties from rioters, triggering a walkout by the Opposition Congress on the refusal of their demand for a division on the proposed legislation.

Home Minister Anil Vij tabled the Haryana Recovery of Damages to Property during Disturbance to Public Order Bill, 2021 in the House. The Congress demanded division of votes on introduction of the Bill. When the Speaker refused, Congress members staged a walkout.

Soon after the Bill was introduced, senior Congress member R S Kadian questioned its timing amid amid the ongoing farmers’ agitation. He said it was like “rubbing salt on farmers’ wounds”.Vij, however, said that some members were “trying to mislead people”.

Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda too questioned timing of the Bill and said it was being introduced “in a haste”. Objecting to the introduction of Bill, Hooda said, “First we should identify those who were responsible for digging up roads to stop farmers from reaching Delhi’s borders”. Congress members also reached Well of the House objecting to introduction of the Bill. Congress MLA B B Batra sought division on the Bill.

However, Speaker Gian Chand Gupta said the Bill has been introduced and there was no provision of division at this stage. “Which rule provides for the division of voting at this stage?” he asked the Congress legislators.

Making an intervention, Vij asked Congress members to clarify whether they were in support of “rioters, destruction of public and private properties, burning of buses and, if not, why were they opposing the Bill then.”

“We are not against a peaceful protest. We are not bringing this Bill against peaceful protests. But it only caters to the damage caused to properties,” he added.

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Uttar Pradesh was the first state to enact bring a Bill for recovery from the people for damages caused to public property during agitation and protests.

The Haryana Bill defines “damages” as “loss, injury or deterioration caused by any act or ommission by any person to property of central government or state government or another person during disturbance to public order”.

Disturbance of public order is defined as “disturbance caused by an assembly, lawful or unlawful and includes a riot, revolt or violent disorder”.

“Property” includes “immovable and moveable properties of all kinds including vehicles, livestock, jewellery, goods and such like properties whose minimum value is one thousand rupees”.

Under the statement of objects and reasons, the Bill mentions, “Whereas the general public has taken a serious note of various past and recent instances of mob violence where there was a large scale destruction, burning-looting of public and private properties, injury or loss of lives during disturbances to public order by an assembly, lawful or unlawful, including riots and violent disorder etc and therefore, the State as well as the private individuals, trusts etc had to suffer huge losses in terms of property and costs. The State Government is supposed to take all preventive, remedial measures so that such incidents are not repeated and public order is maintained. In order to prevent recurrence of such circumstances, there should be a legal framework to cause deterrence in the minds of the perpetrators of violence as also the organisers, instigators etc.”.

It adds, “Whereas the actual perpetrators of such acts of violence and crimes as also the instigators, organizers or incitors be made liable for damages to public property, damages to private property and the cost of the forces requisitioned from outside the State for controlling such acts of violence and crimes”.

The Bill provides for the setting up of a Claims Tribunal to assess the damages caused and to determine the liability to award the compensation in Haryana.

The Collector shall have the power to issue an order of attachment of property or bank account of any person against whom an award has been passed by the Claims Tribunal to pay compensation. The Bill provides that such property or bank account shall remain attached till the person makes the payment of the amount due.

It further says on receipt of information about the damage to any property in a disturbance to public order in an area under one’s police station, the police station’s incharge will have to register an FIR and forward its copy to the district magistrate. On receiving the copy of the FIR, the DM shall issue a notification inviting claims for damages to the property.

On the basis of the FIR and applications claiming damages for the property, the DM would then prepare a report and submit the same to the state government for further proceedings.

The compensation claim may be filed by the owner or his legal representative to whom the damages have been caused, the Bill said.

In case of properties owned by the central or the state government or any of their organisations, the compensation claim will be filed by the respective office in-charge or any officer authorised for it by him.

The Tribunal while examining each compensation claim shall also decide the proportions of the compensation recoverable from various persons involved in “leading, organising, planning, exhorting, instigating, participating or committing the incident leading to damages”.

The DM will deposit the compensation received against the damage to any property of the central or the state government or to meet the cost of deploying police or paramilitary forces from outside the state in the Consolidated Fund of India or the state, as the case may be.

Any person aggrieved by the award passed by the Claims Tribunal may file an appeal before the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, provided that no appeal shall be entertained unless 20 percent of the compensation awarded by the Tribunal is deposited with the DM.

No civil court shall have the jurisdiction to entertain any question relating to the claim for the compensation and no injunction shall be granted by any civil court in respect of anything which is done or intended to be done by or under this Act.

All proceedings of the Claims Tribunal shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings. The Claims Tribunal shall also have the right to proceed ex-parte against any person who fails to appear before it despite the service of summons to him.

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