Ordinance to curb vandalism on hartals gets Kerala Governor's nod

Ordinance to curb vandalism on hartals gets Kerala Governor's nod
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan with Governor Sathasivam.

Thiruvananthapuram: An ordinance that stipulates stringent punishment for those who destroy private property during hartal and agitations have come into force in Kerala. Governor P Sathasivam signed the Kerala Prevention of Damage to Private Property and Payment of Compensation Ordinance 2019 on Tuesday.

The law has no retrospective effect as this feature is not applicable in criminal proceedings.

The governor summoned the chief secretary before signing the ordinance to make sure that it had been scrutinised by the law department.

The cabinet meeting on Thursday will set a date for the state assembly session.

The state government decided to promulgate the ordinance after widespread damage was reported during the recent hartals. “The objective of the ordinance is to consider damage to private property in the name of hartals and communal violence as seriously as the damage to public property,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Monday.

The ordinance, therefore, will be a near exact replica of the central legislation, the Prevention of Damage to Public Property (PDPP) Act, 1984. Private property will mean any property, whether movable or immovable, in the possession of or owned by private individuals or companies or institutions. Those found guilty will face a maximum jail term of five years. Those causing damages using explosives or fire can get a prison term of 10 years, or even life imprisonment.

The chief minister said that the ordinance would also have provisions to extract compensation for damage from the very people who had instigated the violence. This will be done using the Revenue Recovery Act.

The state ordinance will differ from the central PDPP Act only in the bail conditions. Under the central Act, the accused will be granted bail only if an amount equal to the value of properties damaged is furnished. In the state ordinance, the accused can get bail if a sum equivalent to 50 per cent of the value of the damaged properties is submitted as bank guarantee.

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