Causing damage to private property in Kerala will soon be a punishable offence, as the government is all set to promulgate the Kerala Prevention of Damage to Private Property and Payment of Compensation Ordinance 2019.
"The objective of the ordinance is to consider damage to private property in the name of hartals and communal violence, as seriously as that of damage to public property," Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Monday. The aim is to prevent damage to private property during violence brought on by political, social and religious organisations and other groups, during bandhs, hartals, demonstrations and blocking of roads. The law will come to force once the Governor approves it.
Private property refers to any property, whether movable or immovable, in the possession of or owned by private individuals, companies or institutions.
The central legislation is the Prevention of Damage to Public Property (PDP) Act, 1984.
“There is a central legislation existing to prevent damaging of public property. But there is no effective rule to prevent damage of private property,” a statement issued in this regard from the government says.
The ordinance will have provisions to punish the guilty with five years of imprisonment and fine. For those who cause damage using explosives or fire, they will get life imprisonment or imprisonment for 10 years along with fine.
The provisions to get bail are stern. Bail will be granted only after hearing the prosecution side in the case. The accused can get bail if a sum equivalent to 50% of the value of the damaged properties is submitted as a bank guarantee. The damage will be assessed by an official appointed by the state government.
The ordinance would also have provisions to get compensation for damage from the very people who had instigated the violence, as per the Revenue Recovery Act, the statement says.