KOLKATA: The Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal is planning to introduce a stringent Bill in the Legislative Assembly to check incidents of mob assault and lynching in the state, sources said on Tuesday.
The West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019 is likely to be tabled in the House on August 30, they said.
"The bill aims to protect the constitutional rights of vulnerable persons and prevent incidents of lynching. It also proposes action against those involved in perpetrating the crime," a senior TMC minister said.
As per the legislation, if anyone is found guilty of publishing, communicating and disseminating any offensive material either physically or electronically, shall be liable to imprisonment up to one year and fine up to Rs 50,000, the minister said giving a broad outline of the bill.
"Whoever contributes or enforces a hostile environment on a person or a group of persons shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend up to three years," the senior TMC minister said.
The legislation will pitch for a jail term, which may vary from three years to life, for those involved in assaulting and injuring a victim of mob violence.
In case of death, those responsible for the incident would be punished with rigorous life imprisonment and fine up to Rs 5 lakh, he said.
"As per the bill, the state director general of police will appoint a coordinator, who will act as a nodal officer to monitor and take measures to prevent incidents of lynching," the minister added.
As per the objects and reasons of the bill, the Constitution of India guarantees to all persons the right to life and personal liberty and equal protection of the law, in recent times, there have been trends towards mob lynching in different parts of the country.
"The Supreme court has recommended for enacting legislation in this regard. Therefore it is proposed to nip the evil in the bud and to prevent spreading of hatred or incitement to mob lynching by creating special offences against such mob lynching," the bill states.
The opposition Congress welcomed the move but cautioned the government against misusing it.
"It is indeed a welcome step. But the state government should ensure that is not misused," Congress chief whip Manoj Chakraborty said.
The BJP, however, said it is a ploy by the TMC government to settle political scores with the BJP workers and leaders.
"It seems they are very much bothered about incidents of lynchings. But what about political murders of BJP leaders and workers at the hands of TMC goons.
Why aren't they bringing any law to stop such political killings in Bengal," state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.
While reacting to the allegations, TMC secretary general and state parliamentary affairs minister, Partha Chatterjee said BJP has been trying to vitiate the atmosphere of the state and there have been incidents of lynchings over allegations of being child lifter.
"If BJP has done no wrong they why are they so bothered about the bill. The BJP has been trying to vitiate the atmosphere of the state and there have been incidents of lynchings over allegations of being child lifter," Chatterjee said.