CHANDIGARH -- Punjab assembly today passed a bill which states that whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to Guru Granth Sahib with an intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people will be punished with imprisonment for life.
The Bill - Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment )- was moved by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
The Bill seeks life imprisonment for sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib, by adding section 295 AA in IPC and enhancement of punishment under section 295 of IPC, injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class from two to 10 years.
The move comes amidst a number of cases of sacrilege involving the Guru Granth Sahib in the past couple of months which triggered violent protests. Police firing during the clash in Faridkot had claimed two lives last month.
However, the amendment in the bill brought by Leader of Opposition Charanjit Singh Channi and Congress MLAs Ashwini Sekhri and Tarlochan Singh was lost by voice vote.
The Congress leaders wanted provisions of similar punishments should be made for those causing damage to Gita, Bible, Quran, Ramayan and Mahabharta.
He, however, requested that provision for life imprisonment should also be made for those hurting or causing damage to Gita, Ramayan, Bible, Quran and Mahabharta.
Hailing the bill, he however, said that "what is more important is to arrest those who indulge in such crimes and implementation of such an Act."
Channi said Congress supports the bill, but keeping in mind the secular credentials of the country similar provision for punishments should also be made for those damaging Holy books of other religions.
"Before making a law, government should first arrest the culprits behind such crimes," he said.
Revenue Minister Bikarm Singh Majithia demanded capital punishments for those indulging in incidents of sacrilege.
BJP's Madan Mohan Mittal, who is also Parliamentary Affairs Minister, said that it is mentioned in the bill that those destroying or defiling a place of worship or sacred object with intent to insult the religion of any class or persons will get imprisonment for ten years.
Under IPC's section 295 A, punishment for sacrilege is jail term for three years.
Hitting out at Congress for expressing concern for people of other religions, he said that there are many sects in the country.
Sukhbir said the government decided to increase the punishment from two years to life imprisonment for those indulging in incidents of sacrilege after consultation with the SGPC and Sant Samaj.
Besides, the House passed seven other bills with no discussion on these.
Among those included Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets (Amendment) Bill.
The Bill was moved by Agriculture Minister Tota Singh.
He said that now the farmers will be provided a health insurance cover of Rs 50,000 and personal accident insurance of Rs five lakh.
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