Govt changed draft Bill against lynching before passing it: Bengal oppn to Governor

Sujan Chakraborty and Abdul Mannan with Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy: Raj Bhavan)

A delegation of Congress and Left Front MLAs met Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar at Raj Bhavan on Tuesday and apprised him of grave irregularities and legislative improprieties in respect to the passing of the Bill against lynching in Assembly last month.

The delegation, led by Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Abdul Mannan and Leader of Left Front Legislature Party Sujan Chakroborty, told the Governor that the Bill placed in the House on August 30 was different from the draft copy of the Bill that was circulated among the members on August 26, and the one to which the Governor had recommended introduction.

According to Congress and Left Front MLAs, the draft copy of the Bill did not mention death sentence as the maximum quantum of punishment. But the Bill that was passed by the Assembly mentioned death penalty . This cannot be a printing mistake and it is a serious lapse, they said.

The Governor reportedly indicated them that he would look into the available records, and if required, would go through the proceedings of the Assembly. Even thereafter, if a situation is occasioned, he would seek inputs from the Speaker and the Advocate General on the issue, sources said.

The Governor also assured them that he would look into the matter from a constitutional point of view, they added.

The West Bengal Assembly on August 30 passed the Bill against lynching, providing for life imprisonment to those injuring a person and capital punishment for causing death, becoming the second state in the country after Rajasthan to have passed an anti-lynching Bill.

Just like The Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019, the draft The West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019, proposed life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5 lakh as the maximum punishment for someone whose act is found to lead to the death of a person. However, capital punishment for causing death was inserted in the Bill that was tabled by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the Assembly on Friday.

The Bill, passed by voice vote, came after a series of lynching cases in the past few months in Kolkata and the districts. Rumours of child-lifters were also seen to be spreading in different areas, especially in North Bengal.