Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Thursday passed a Bill that seeks to punish rioters, stone pelters and organisations and also recover damages from them in case any damage is done to the public and the private properties during protests by them.
The Bill 'Madhya Pradesh Damage to Public and Private Property Recovery Bill, 2021' tabled in the state assembly by parliamentary affairs minister Narottam Mishra was passed with a voice vote.
However, there was no discussion on the Bill as the Congress MLAs had staged a walkout over, what they said, their leader Kamal Nath not being allowed to speak in the House over OBC reservation in panchayat polls after an unanimous resolution was passed to the effect.
Madhya Pradesh is the third state in the country after Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to have this kind of Bill passed in the state assembly.
As per the Bill, during a trial, once the prosecution succeeds in proving that a public property was damaged in direct actions called by an organisation in which the accused also participated, the court can draw a presumption that the accused is guilty of destroying public property too.
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 focuses on those indulging in communal riots, hartals (general strikes), protests and those who take out rallies during which property is damaged, and such accused will be tried before criminal tribunals, Mishra had said earlier.
Under the UP law, Claim Tribunals set up under the Act are supposed to decide matters in one year, while the MP Bill reduces this time to three months, an official said.
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.
At the same time, no innocent person, in spite of being a leader of the organisation, shall be made to suffer for the actions of others, the Bill said.
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