SRINAGAR: In a development which could have far-reaching implications on Kashmir situation, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra has promulgated an ordinance making persons calling for strikes or demonstrations, which leads to damage of public and private property, liable for imprisonment up to five years and fines.
An official spokesman said Governor Vohra has promulgated “The Jammu and Kashmir Public Property (Prevention of Damage) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017”, which amends the existing law relating to damage to public property and which will come into force with immediate effect.
“The amendment would now more effectively discourage and prevent the deleterious activities of individuals and organizations, which result in damage to public and private properties,” he said.
The amendment to the existing law, according to the spokesman, has been made to implement the directions of the Supreme Court in the case titled “In Re-Destruction of Public and Private Properties vs. State of A.P and others (2009)”.
The ordinance has been enacted to achieve twin objections of making mischief to public and private property due to direct action punishable and to make any person calling for direct action liable for abetment of such offence.
“Whoever announces direct action in the form of strikes, demonstrations, or other public forms of protests which causes damage to public and private property can be punished with imprisonment for a period of 2-5 years and imposition of a fine equivalent to the market value of the property damaged or destroyed in the incident,” the official spokesman said.
He said the scope of the existing law, which was earlier restricted to public property (Government property or property owned by government entities) has been enlarged to also include private property.
As the State Legislature is not in Session, Governor on recommendations of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti exercised his powers under Section 91 of J&K Constitution to promulgate the ordinance,” the spokesman said.
Reacting to promulgation of the ordinance, CPI (M) State Secretary and MLA Kulgam, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said it would trample the legitimate democratic rights of people.
“There are already enough laws in place to deal with law and order situations and how many more new laws are needed? If such laws are passed, it has the potential of creating erosion of the genuine rights of people. All this could have far-reaching implications,” he said.
The lawmaker said the government needs to answer that if people protest for livelihood issues, mis-governance and excessive use of force, would they also be booked under the new law.