Har govt tables Bill to recover damages to property during protests, riots

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Chandigarh, Mar 15 (PTI) The Haryana government on Monday tabled in the state assembly a Bill seeking recovery of damages to public properties from rioters, triggering a walkout by the Opposition Congress on the refusal of their demand for a division on the Bill.

Haryana's Home and Urban Local Bodies Minister Anil Vij tabled the Haryana Recovery of Damages to Property during Disturbance to Public Order Bill, 2021 in the House this evening.

It will be taken up for discussion and passage later during the ongoing budget session of the assembly.

Soon after the Bill was introduced, senior Congress member R S Kadian questioned the timing of bringing in the bill, saying it will send a “wrong signal” amid the ongoing farmers' agitation.

Vij, however, said some members were trying to mislead the House.

Former Chief Minister B S Hooda, who is the Leader of the Opposition, said the state authorities had dug up roads to prevent farmers from reaching the national capital and wondered who will be held responsible in this case “for damage to public property”.

Congress MLA B B Batra sought division on the Bill and was supported by other members of his party, but Speaker Gian Chand Gupta said the Bill has been introduced and there was no provision of division at this stage.

“Which rule provides for the division of voting at this stage?” Speaker Gupta asked the Congress legislators.

Making an intervention, Minister Vij asked Congress members to clarify whether they were in support of “rioters, destruction of public and private properties, burning of buses and, if not, why were they opposing the Bill then.' Speaker asked the Congress members why they were running away from a discussion.

At this, Hooda asserted, “Asking for the division is our right.” Then pointing towards the treasury benches, Hooda said, “We will not allow you to run road roller (and not let the opposition have its say).” The Bill provides for recovery of damages to properties caused by people during disturbance to public order by an assembly, lawful or unlawful, including riots and violent disorder.

It also provides for the setting up of a Claims Tribunal to assess the damages caused and to determine the liability to award the compensation in Haryana.

The Collector shall have the power to issue an order of attachment of property or bank account of any person against whom an award has been passed by the Claims Tribunal to pay compensation.

The Bill provides that such property or bank account shall remain attached till the person makes the payment of the amount due.

It further says on receipt of information about the damage to any property in a disturbance to public order in an area under one’s police station, the police station’s incharge will have to register an FIR and forward its copy to the district magistrate.

On receiving the copy of the FIR, the DM shall issue a notification inviting claims for damages to the property.

On the basis of the FIR and applications claiming damages for the property, the DM would then prepare a report and submit the same to the state government for further proceedings.

The compensation claim may be filed by the owner or his legal representative to whom the damages have been caused, the Bill said.

In case of properties owned by the central or the state government or any of their organisations, the compensation claim will be filed by the respective office in-charge or any officer authorised for it by him.

The Tribunal while examining each compensation claim shall also decide the proportions of the compensation recoverable from various persons involved in “leading, organising, planning, exhorting, instigating, participating or committing the incident leading to damages”.

The DM will deposit the compensation received against the damage to any property of the central or the state government or to meet the cost of deploying police or paramilitary forces from outside the state in the Consolidated Fund of India or the state, as the case may be.

Any person aggrieved by the award passed by the Claims Tribunal may file an appeal before the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, provided that no appeal shall be entertained unless 20 percent of the compensation awarded by the Tribunal is deposited with the DM.

No civil court shall have the jurisdiction to entertain any question relating to the claim for the compensation and no injunction shall be granted by any civil court in respect of anything which is done or intended to be done by or under this Act.

All proceedings of the Claims Tribunal shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings.

The Claims Tribunal shall also have the right to proceed ex-parte against any person who fails to appear before it despite the service of summons to him. PTI SUN VSD RAX RAX