KOLKATA: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar has asked the state law secretary for written clarification on The West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019, which was passed in the Assembly in August.
Dhankar intervened after the Opposition alleged that the Bill circulated in the House, had prescribed life imprisonment as the maximum quantum of punishment but that had been changed to capital punishment when the Bill was passed.
Leader of the opposition Abdul Mannan and Left Front leader Sujan Chakrabarty met Dhankar and sought his intervention, alleging that the Bill placed in the Assembly was different to the draft copy circulated among the members of the House.
The Governor sought clarification from the home secretary and the law department on the error, which the
state government has now explained as a ‘printing mistake because of optical illusion.’
Dhankar, who is also a legal expert, summoned law secretary Sandip Roy Chowdhury to Raj Bhavan for his verbal explanation. “The Governor was not satisfied with the printing mistake theory and he asked Roy Chowdhury to submit a written explanation,” said an official at Raj Bhavan. “According to them (Mannan and Chakrabarty), the reason for this cannot be a printing mistake and is a serious lapse,” a statement from the Raj Bhavan said.
According to Raj Bhavan sources, the Bill is lying with the Governor’s office for his approval. “The Governor may summon Mannan and Chakrabarty once again. Before taking a final decision, he may discuss the issue with the Assembly Speaker and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Besides, he is also taking opinion from legal experts in this regard,’’ said a Raj Bhavan official.
The state government passed the Bill on August 30 in the Assembly following a recommendation by the Supreme Court to enact a law against incidents of mob lynching in Bengal. West Bengal witnessed several incidents of mob violence over a period of past four months in which 13 persons were lynched by mobs that suspected them to be either thieves or child-lifters.