The Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Thursday passed the ‘Public and Property Recovery Bill’ that seeks to empower the administration to prosecute and recover damages to both public and private properties during strikes, protests or communal riots.
Though the bill was put for discussion in the Assembly on Wednesday, it was passed without any debate amid a walkout by the Congress as the Leader of Opposition Kamal Nath was not allowed to speak on the resolution related to OBCs’ reservation in the state.
The ‘Madhya Pradesh Damage to Public and Private Property Recovery Bill, 2021’ mandates that people or organisations responsible for damaging public and private property during protests should pay for the damage.
The bill will now be sent to the Governor Mangubhai C. Patel for his approval.
Once enacted, Madhya Pradesh will be among the states — Uttar Pradesh and Haryana — where such rules have already been implemented.
The bill will empower the prosecution to prove in the court that the action of a particular person or the organisation has resulted in damage of public or private properties.
“The onus of proving innocence will be on him or her from this stage of trial onwards. It will be open for the accused to rebut such presumption. Abetment of offence shall carry the same penalty as the main offence,” the bill said.
On December 16, a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had cleared the bill.
The bill also proposes a provision that “specified categories” of leaders of the organisation which gave the call for direct action resulting in damage to public property shall be deemed guilty of abetment.
“Exemplary damages” may be awarded to an extent not greater than twice the amount of the damages liable to be paid, the bill mentions.