Property Damage Law: Controversial ordinance to lapse tomorrow

The controversial ordinance on property damage, which was promulgated by the government in 2017, would meet its “silent death” on Tuesday.
Property Damage Law: Controversial ordinance to lapse tomorrow
File Photo

The controversial ordinance on property damage, which was promulgated by the government in 2017, would meet its "silent death" on Tuesday. 

The Jammu and Kashmir Public Property Damage (Prevention of Damage) Amendment Ordinance 2017, promulgated on October 25, empowered police to book leaders and organizers calling for shutdowns, demonstrations or other forms of protest wherein properties are damaged.

An official told Greater Kashmir that the ordinance would automatically lapse on Tuesday. 

"Under the J&K constitution, an ordinance, once issued, is valid for six weeks from the first sitting of the legislature after it was issued. Since the first sitting of the legislature was held on January 2, it would cease to be in effect after February 13," the official said.

Under Section 91(2)(a) of J&K Constitution, an ordinance shall cease to operate at the expiration of six weeks from the re-assembly of the Legislature, or if before the expiration of that period a resolution disapproving it is passed by the Legislative Assembly and agreed to by the Legislative Council, upon the resolution being agreed to by the Legislative Council.

A bill seeking replacement of the ordinance was sent to a select committee on Saturday after government faced widespread criticism from the opposition in the Legislative Assembly over it.

The opposition termed it as a draconian law and equated it with Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Public Safety Act and other controversial laws applicable in the state.

The promulgation of the ordinance last year had come under criticism from separatist groups, High Court Bar Association and civil rights groups.

The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), termed the ordinance as "outrageous and dictatorial." In a statement, the JRL had said that observing shutdown is a universally accepted democratic and peaceful right of protest and resistance and fixing a punishment for it reflects the "totalitarian and repressive mindset of the anti-people ruling regime."

The Peoples Union for Democratic Rights also slammed the ordinance, saying "it will allow state administration to pick up innocent men and falsely charge them for causing mischief and it will further become a potential ground to commit torture upon men and women".

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