HARYANA RECOVERY OF DAMAGES TO PROPERTY ACT BY DEEPIKA DUBEY

                                           HARYANA RECOVERY OF DAMAGES TO PROPERTY ACT

On March 18, 2021, Shri  Satyadeva Narayan Arya, the governor of Haryana gave his assent to the “Haryana Recovery of Damages to Property During Disturbance to Public Order Bill, 2021” making it a concrete law. Haryana is the second state in the entire nation after the Uttar Pradesh government implemented the Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Act, 2020. The act is aimed at reducing and compensating for the loss of property done during any protest. It has always been a major problem for the governments to compensate for the losses suffered by innocent people during any violent protest. Thus, the government has introduced this bill which states that any damage done to people’s shops, vendor carts, houses, government offices, vehicles, buses, and other public property in the due course of any movement will be recovered from the protestors and the leaders carrying out the protest.

Earlier, there was no law that provided for compensating for the loss caused to the properties of other people as well as public property. Much attention was never paid to the extent of problems that the people had to face in cases where the properties were destroyed just because the protestors wanted to express their displeasure with something. Section 195 of The Prevention of Damage to Public property Act,1984 makes the loss or destruction of property of another person a criminal offence. But this does not ensure justice to the amount of loss that the people have to suffer.  only provided for a maximum 5-year jail term with a fine as a punishment for causing any harm to public property. If the damage was committed by fire or any explosive substance, the maximum punishment that could be provided an imprisonment of up to 10 years along with a fine. Section 425 of the Indian Penal Code calls the intentional damage to another’s property or to public property merely mischief. 

With the introduction of this bill, the people causing the damage or the leaders of the protests are made liable to pay for the damages and losses caused to the public and other’s property. The major highlights of the Act are stated below:

Claim for Damages 

  • The damages done to properties during any disturbance to public order(by lawful as well as unlawful assembly) are to be recovered from the people involved in the protests.
  • It ensures that the victims are given the compensation which they deserve.
  • The Act provides for Comprehensive coverage of the damages caused. It clearly mentions that the recovery of damages will not be only done by the people causing destruction, but also by the people who lead the protests, the organizers, and the people who plan the protest and provide encouragement to the protestors. 
  • The claim for compensation can be filed by the owner or the legal representative of the person to whom the damages have been caused in matters relating to private property.
  • The claim for compensation shall be filed by the office in charge or any other officer appointed by the office in charge where the property belonged to either central or state government or any other organization.

 

Setting up of a Claims Tribunal 

  • A Claims tribunal will be established to decide upon the issues of damages caused and compensation to the victims. No civil court shall have the jurisdiction to have a say in the matters relating to the claims for compensation. All the proceedings of the Tribunal shall be considered to be civil Proceedings. 
  • Any aggrieved person not satisfied with the award of the Tribunal can directly file an appeal in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana.  But the appeal will not stand any chance in the court if 20% of the compensation awarded has been deposited with the DM( District Magistrate).
  • The DM will deposit the compensation received against the damage caused to any property belonging to the central or state government in the consolidated fund of India or the state, as the case may be.
  • The tribunal shall also determine the proportions of compensation to be recovered from different persons involved in Leading, organizing, planning, exhorting, instigating, participating, or committing the incident leading to damage.
  • Apart from the compensation, the accused can also be asked by the tribunal to pay ‘ exemplary damages’ to the Consolidated fund of India.
  • It can also charge 6% simple interest on the amount of compensation.
  • The claims Tribunal also has the power to proceed against any person who does not appear before it even after issuing summons to him/ her, if it is in the public interest.

Procedure to be Followed

  • If a police station has received any complaint about the loss or damage caused to any property, then the in charge of the police station will register an FIR and forward the copy of the same to the District Magistrate.
  • Once, the DM receives the copy of the FIR, he issues a notification inviting claims for the damages to the property.
  • On the basis of the FIR received and the claims for the damages, the DM will prepare his report and further send it to the state government for the initiation of further proceedings.

Attachment of property or Bank Account

  • The collector shall have the authority to order to attach the property or the bank account of such a person against whom an award has been given to pay compensation by the Claims Tribunal.
  • Such property or the bank account attached shall remain attached till the person accused pays the amount which has been due on him.

 

The act was passed by the government of Haryana with the view that it is the responsibility of the government to protect and preserve any public or private property in the state. If the government is not able to handle the property properly, it will cause a great deal of loss for everybody in the nation. The unsocial elements in the society will take the cover of protests and riots and cause serious damages to property.

Another objective of the introduction of this act is to maintain a proper balance between the rights and responsibilities of different people. It is true that India is a democratic country and everybody has the right to protest and express their concerns. Nobody can stop them, but if, they do not have the right to cause damage to public or private property. If they have the right to protest, they also have the responsibility to respect other people’s right to live peacefully and not causing any inconvenience to the common people. 

This Act would indeed serve as a path for other governments to follow as a lot of damage is caused to property whenever any violent protest takes place. The people who try to destroy public property and get involved in vandalism should not be spared and dealt with very sternly. It’s high time that there has to be some solid law that makes people stop suffering due to some ulterior motives of a handful of people. These people should not be given a chance to cause any harm and get through it just by facing jail imprisonment. Instead, they should be made to pay for the damages that they have caused. Why should common people bear the loss in place of some unsocial elements? Thus, this act was very much needed to keep a check on the destruction of property during any protest and people suffering out of it without any mistake.

 

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