Law Commission recommends amendments in Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act
New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) The 22nd Law Commission, chaired by Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi (retd), has recommended amendments in the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act saying that the law passed in 1984 seems to have failed in its stated objective of preventing the destruction of public property.
The panel said that destruction of public property has continued undiminished and the scale of destruction has only increased over the years causing gargantuan losses to the public exchequer and inconvenience to the general public.
It said that the Commission suo moto undertook to prepare its 284th report and did an extensive study of the subject after analysing various relevant constitutional and statutory provisions, numerous judicial pronouncements by the courts across the country, and the incidents involving large scale destruction of public property.
Parliament in 1948 enacted the ‘Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act’ criminalizing the acts of vandalism directed at public property.
In 2009, the Supreme Court took suo moto cognizance of destruction of public property and issued certain guidelines based on two reports submitted by Justice K. T. Thomas-led committee and Fali S. Nariman-led committee.
The Commission said that the courts in India have been at the forefront in recognizing the right to protest as a facet of the right to freedom of speech and expression and at the same time, cautioned that such right needs to be exercised with restraint and at all times, peacefully.
In its report, the law panel also recommended introducing a separate law or amending Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita or the Indian Penal Code to tackle the issue of prolonged willful obstruction of public property.