An eight-year-old bill to make protesters who damage public property responsible for monetary compensation is finally being expedited by the Home Ministry after the Patidar and Jat agitations in Gujarat and Haryana respectively, reports The Economic Times. Damages caused by the recent Jat quota stir in Haryana are reported to be nearly Rs 20,000 crore.
Amendments to the Damage of Public Property Act, 1984, have been stuck since 2007 when the Supreme Court directed the government to ensure that agitators are made to pay monetary compensation for damages during a stir. Though the then UPA had started work on them, the bill was stuck due Parliament logjams.
"The amendments once cleared may be introduced in the ongoing Budget session, though they cannot be applied with retrospective effect," said a senior home ministry official. The amendments may also include damage to private properties not covered by insurance.
The amended law will hold leaders of political parties and other organisations liable for damages during agitations. Political leaders may also face jail terms. "The fine shall be equivalent to the market values of the public property damaged," the home ministry has suggested. The police will videograph demonstrations and deposit copies with the SDM.
An 'abetment of mischief' clause has been inserted in the act under section 4B that will allow office-bearers of organisations participating in agitations to be punished for abetment should there be any damages to public property.