Protests with bodies set to invite jail in Haryana - Hindustan Times
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Protests with bodies set to invite jail in Haryana

By, Chandigarh
Jan 31, 2024 08:50 AM IST

Cabinet clears draft of bill that proposes making demonstrations with dead bodies a non-bailable offence with a minimum imprisonment of six months, to be tabled in upcoming budget session

The Haryana cabinet on Tuesday gave approval to a bill that proposes making public protests with bodies a non-bailable offence with a minimum imprisonment of six months.

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar chairing the cabinet meet on Tuesday. (HT Photo)
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar chairing the cabinet meet on Tuesday. (HT Photo)

“This landmark legislation --- The Haryana Honourable Disposal of Dead Body Bill-2024 --- aims to ensure the decent and timely last rites of a dead. It is essential to prevent any individual from using a deceased body as a means of protest or demonstration in any form,” a state government spokesperson said, informing that the cabinet meeting under the chairmanship of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has green-lighted the draft.

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Also, whoever will abet, attempt or conspire to commit an offence under the proposed legislation, will also be liable for same punishment. The bill is likely to be introduced in the upcoming budget session that starts from February 20.

The draft was tabled before the cabinet after inter- departmental consultations and technical advice of the Legal Remembrancer (LR) on four points.

The LR has stated that it will be necessary to reserve the bill for the consideration of the President of India after it is passed by the state legislature as required under the provisions of Article 254 (2) of the Constitution.

“Any person, who uses a dead body for remonstration, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine up to 1 lakh,” reads section 13 of the legislation. All offences under this Act will be ‘cognisable and non-bailable’ and police officer not below the rank of sub-Inspector will be appointed to investigate the case.

As per the section 5 of the Bill, no family member will himself use or allow the dead body to be used or instigate or give consent to any other person or group of persons to use the dead body for remonstration of any kind.

While mooting the proposal before the cabinet for approval, additional chief secretary (ACS-home) TVSN Prasad in a two-page note said: :Keeping in view the right and dignity of a dead person, nobody should be allowed to raise any demand or bait for pursuing any demands by way of any protest or agitation by not performing the timely last rites of a dead body.”

Rights & dignity of the dead

The bill says that every dead body shall have the right of an honourable and timely last rites. Taking possession of the body and performing the last rites will be the duty of the family member after police hand over the body following a due compliance of legal procedure.

“...in the event of refusal by family member to take the dead body...the executive magistrate will ensure that the last rites are performed immediately,” the bill says, empowering officer-in-charge of the police station to ‘take possession of the dead body’ if it is likely to be used by any family member or a group of persons for demonstration.

On the basis of the information received from the police, the executive magistrate concerned will give a notice to a family member of the deceased for taking custody of the body and perform the last rites in a time-bound manner and remove the unlawful obstruction, if any, from public place, the draft adds.

“If the family fails to perform last rites within the specified period, the executive magistrate will direct any officer of the urban local body/ gram panchayat concerned or any other officer as he deems fit to perform the last rites within 12 hours,” according to the bill.

“No order duly made by the executive magistrate under this section shall be called in question in any court of law...no suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against the state or any officer of the government for anything which is done in good faith or intended to be done under this Act or rules,” further reads the draft.

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