Ball in Select Committee’s court

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A bill on property damage law was sent to a select committee of the Legislative Assembly after the government faced widespread criticism over it from the opposition. Now it remains to been seen what would the select committee recommend.
The bill makes persons calling for shutdowns, demonstrations or other forms of protest, wherein properties are damaged, liable for imprisonment and fine. Whosoever calls for a direct action, whether he participates in such an action directly or indirectly which results in damage to private and public property, shall be deemed to be guilty of abetment of the offence under the Act.
The direct action, according to the bill, means the use of strikes, demonstrations or other forms of public protests rather than negotiation to achieve a demand.
After the J&K government brought the bill for discussion it drew flak from the opposition parties as almost all the parties opposed the bill and termed it as draconian.
The Jammu and Kashmir government believes that it needs stringent laws to deal with the daily law and problems as protests and shutdown have become an order of the day.
Opposition leaders who opposed the bill accused the J&K government of taking a hasty decision. They argued that what is the compulsion for enacting this law when the Centre is still holding discussions over incorporating these provisions in its own property damage law.
The central property damage law – The Prevention of Public Property Damage Act 1984-is applicable to all the states except J&K.
Now the bill has been sent to the select committee and final decision over it would be taken only after the committee submits its report. Till then the matter has been put in the abeyance.

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