Madhya Pradesh mulls law to make protesters pay for damages

Once the Madhya Pradesh Public Private Property Damage Resolution and Recovery Bill, 2021, becomes law, the government can use it to constitute claims tribunals across the state that will have the power of civil courts under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908

Representative photo

Borrowing from the example of BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, the Madhya Pradesh government plans to introduce a legislation that will empower the administration to demand twice the cost of damages caused to public and private property by a protester or a group of protesters during agitations, rallies and communal riots.

Once the Madhya Pradesh Public Private Property Damage Resolution and Recovery Bill, 2021, becomes law, the government can use it to constitute claims tribunals across the state that will have the power of civil courts under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908.

The Bill is likely to be tabled in the assembly in the winter session starting November-end.

Each tribunal will reportedly have retired district judges, DG, IG and secretaries.

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The tribunals will have the power to recover up to twice the cost of damages caused to the owner of the property, either an individual or government, and to levy an interest on the offender if the recovery is not made within 15 days from the date of order. The tribunal can also instruct the concerned district collector to begin with the recovery process if the damages are not paid within 15 days.

The tribunal will also be empowered to compensate a person for a money spent in fighting the case.

It is reported that individuals or government departments that have incurred losses could approach the tribunal within 30 days of the incident. While individuals can directly move the tribunal, in the case of government department the concerned district collector should approach the tribunal with the grievances.

The tribunal will then issue a certificate to the district collector to recover the compensation amount from the offender and the latter will implement the recovery under the Revenue Recovery Act, 1980. This includes seizing and auctioning movable and immovable asserts of those responsible for causing the damages.

According to state home minister Narottam Mishra, the tribunals will solve the cases within three months and their orders can only be challenged in the high court.

A similar legislation was passed by the Uttar Pradesh government last year in the aftermath of the anti-CAA protests.

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