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Cong & Left Raise Objections on Bengal Lynching Bill, BJP Agrees

BJP state General Secretary Sayantan Basu said, “Whatever the Congress and Left said to the governor is correct.”

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On 30 August, the West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019, was passed by the TMC-majority Assembly, with the Congress and the Left also supporting the legislation.

But less than three weeks later, on 17 September, leaders of the Congress and the Left met with WB Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar to raise objections regarding the “grave irregularities” and “legislative improprieties” in the passage of the bill.

Congress MLA Abdul Mannan, leader of the Opposition in the Bengal Assembly, and Left Legislature Party chief Sujan Chakraborty made a joint presentation to the Governor at Raj Bhavan, and sought his intervention in the matter.

Interestingly enough, the BJP agrees with the objections made by the other two Opposition parties.

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What Are the Objections?

According to the Congress and the Left, the draft copy of the Bill that was circulated to the MLAs mentioned life imprisonment as the maximum quantum of punishment. However, the Bill that was passed by the Assembly mentions death penalty as the toughest punishment under the legislation.

The bill is currently awaiting the governor’s seal of approval.

“It was indicated by them that the bill placed in the House on 30.8.2019 was different than the draft copy of the bill that was circulated amongst the members of the Assembly on 26 August, 2019, and the one to which the governor had recommended introduction.”
Statement by the Governor’s office

“These changes were made without bringing in any amendment. The governor assured us that he would look into the matter from a constitutional point of view,” The Telegraph quoted Left leader Sujan Chakraborty as saying.

Congress MLA Abdul Mannan added that due to the differences in the two versions, the bill would be challenged in court. “We have drawn the attention of the governor as he is the constitutional head of the state,” he said.

What Happens Next?

About the course of action hereon, the Raj Bhavan statement said, “The governor, after hearing them (the Opposition leaders), indicated that he would look into the available records and if required, would go through the proceedings of the Assembly, even thereafter, if a situation is occasioned, he would seek inputs from the Hon’ble Speaker and the advocate general.”

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BJP Agrees With Congress & Left

In what can only be described as a political rarity, the BJP is backing the Congress and the Left on this issue. Speaking to The Quint, BJP state General Secretary Sayantan Basu said, “Whatever they have said to the governor is correct.”

Basu was quick to add though, “But they are raising technical issues. We are not only concerned about technical issues, we are also concerned about the merit of the bill. It is very unfortunate that they have put death sentence for something like that, for mob lynching. IPC 302 (about punishment for murder) already deals with that.”

Basu also echoed the assertions made by the Congress and the Left regarding the last-minute insertion of the death penalty in the bill. “There was no mention of death sentence in the draft bill, that was circulated on the floor of the House.”

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