- The state’s BJP-led government passed a bill to recover losses incurred by the protests by voice vote
- The state government, according to the Congress, is “rubbing salt in the wounds” of protesting farmers, many of whom are from Haryana
- Manohar Lal Khattar, the chief minister, clarified that this bill has nothing to do with the current agitation of farmers
During the state Assembly’s Budget session on Thursday, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Haryana government passed a Bill to recover damages to public and private property from protestors by voice vote.
The Haryana Recovery of Damages to Property during Public Order Disturbance Bill, 2021, was passed despite strong opposition. The opposition, Congress MLAs gathered in the well of the House, shouting slogans and waving copies of the Bill.
According to one of the leading news channels of the country, opposition leaders staged a walkout on March 16, when Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij tabled the Bill. On the bill’s introduction, the Congress had proposed a division of votes. Party representatives walked out of the Assembly after the Speaker refused.
RS Kadian, a senior Congress member, challenged the Bill’s timing, given the ongoing farmers’ demonstrations against new agricultural laws. He went on to say that the government was “rubbing salt in the wounds” of the farmers protesting, many of whom are Haryana residents who are protesting since November last year. The senior Congress member also added, “It’s similar to the three central farm rules, except it’s been introduced in such a way that it raises suspicion.
Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda, too, questioned the legislation’s purpose, saying it was being implemented “in haste.” “First and foremost, we must identify those who dug up roads to prevent farmers from reaching Delhi’s borders,” Hooda had said.
Vij, for his part, said that members of the opposition were “trying to mislead people.” The BJP leader demanded an answer from the Congress on whether it endorsed “rioters, destruction of public and private property, and bus burning.” “If that was the case, why are they against the Bill?” Vij questioned.
Vij clarified after the opposition’s disagreement and said, “We are not against a peaceful protest,” He further added, “We are not bringing this Bill against peaceful protests. However, it is only concerned with property loss.”
The minister said that the law’s enactment was on the government’s agenda “long before” the farmers’ protest. “Should we let people’s houses burn?” he wondered. He also asked the opposition about their intentions, “Do you support the rioters or do you disagree with them?” The bill has been introduced in response to public demand.”
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar defended the law, claiming that it was the state government’s responsibility to protect property.
What does the Bill say?
According to one of the leading news channels, damages are described in the Haryana Recovery of Damages to Property Bill as “loss, injury, or deterioration caused by any act or omission by any person to property of the central government, state government, or another person during a disturbance of public order.”
“Immovable and movable assets of all sorts, including vehicles, goods, jewellery, goods, livestock, and other related properties with a minimum value of a thousand rupees” are referred to as property.”
The bill establishes a Claims Tribunal to assess the damages and decide who was responsible for it, making that individual liable for compensation. It gives the collector the authority to issue an order for the attachment of any person’s property or bank account against whom the tribunal has issued an award.
Furthermore, the bill forbids any civil court from considering any issue relating to the compensation claim, and no civil court may grant an injunction in favour of something performed or intended to be done by or under this Act.
The Claims Tribunal’s hearings will be viewed as judicial proceedings. According to the law, the Claims Tribunal has the authority to proceed ex-parte against someone who fails to appear before it after being served with a summons.