Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Assembly on Monday passed two Bills, including one that relates to recovery of damages to public and private properties from protesters, amid opposition demands that it be referred to a select committee.
According to the Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Bill, 2021, protesters found guilty of damaging government or private properties will face imprisonment of one year or a fine ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
The house also passed the Uttar Pradesh Goonda Control (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to empower joint and deputy commissioners of police to act under the legislation.
Assembly speaker Hriday Narayan Dixit announced the passage of both Bills.
The Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Bill, 2021 was tabled in the house by parliamentary affairs minister Suresh Khanna.
Leader of opposition (LoP) Ram Govind Chaudhary said the state government is only enacting laws to pat its own back.”Since independence, there is a tradition of writing on walls. If it will be banned, how will political parties express themselves?” he asked. If any goon or anti-social element enters a demonstration or agitation and causes damage, the government will make recovery from a political party worker, which would not be right, he said.
Samajwadi Party leader Ujjwal Raman Singh demanded that the Bill be referred to a select committee, saying the government makes laws in haste and later withdraws them. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Lalji Verma backed the demand. The Bill has been brought with a view to suppress the democratic movement, and it should be presented only after giving it a thorough thought, he said.
However, minister Khanna said this Bill has been brought in good spirit and that it will start a good tradition.
The opposition’s proposal to send the Bill to a select committee fell flat as it did not have the required numbers.
Earlier, chief minister Yogi Adityanath had said public and private properties in the state are damaged during political processions, demonstrations, strikes and agitations. Pamphlets and posters are pasted on walls and they are defaced with ink or paint. He had said that a law would be enacted to protect the beauty of towns and cities, and public interest and recovery will be made from those who cause harm.
The Uttar Pradesh Goonda Control (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was also passed by the assembly. It amends the existing Goonda Act to empower joint and deputy commissioners of police to take action under the law.
The Goonda Act allows police to keep habitual offenders under preventive detention for a year. According to the law, a “goonda” is a person who, either by himself or as a member or leader of a gang, habitually commits or attempts to commit or abets the commission of offences.
After Khanna tabled the Bill, LoP Chaudhary and BSP’s Lalji Verma demanded that it be sent to a select committee.
Khanna said once enacted, this law will be effective only in Lucknow and Gautam Buddh Nagar districts where the police commissionerate system has been implemented. He said Section 2 of the Uttar Pradesh Goonda Control Act, 1970 has been amended.
Till date, the district magistrate and the additional district magistrate have the right of hearing and taking action under the section. But now, in the commissionerate police system of Lucknow and Noida (Gautam Buddh Nagar), the joint and deputy commissioners of police will be empowered to take action, he said. The minister further said the amendments have been made as police commissioners are senior officers and district magistrates are below them in districts.
Both Bills have now been referred to the legislative council.