New Delhi: Parliament on Wednesday passed an
amendment to the oil pipelines act to make acts of terrorism
to destroy oil and gas pipelines in the country punishable by
a maximum of death sentence.
The Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right
of User in Land) Amendment Bill, 2010, passed by the Rajya
Sabha today, provides for a jail term of a minimum of ten
years` rigorous imprisonment for acts of terrorism. The Lok
Sabha has already passed the bill.
The punishment "may extend to imprisonment for life or
death" in case the act of sabotage is dangerous and is likely
to cause death of any other person, the amendment bill states.
Prior to the amendment, the Act provided for a jail term
of one to three years` for acts of sabotage and pilferage.
Replying to the debate on the bill, Minister of State for
Petroleum and Natural Gas R P N Singh said the existing
sections in the 1962 Act did not contain adequate provisions
to prevent such incidents.
Acts of sabotage to any crude oil, petroleum product and
natural gas would now be punishable with rigorous imprisonment
of up to 10 years and a fine.
On reservations expressed by members on onus lying on the
accused to prove innocence, the Minister said "this will apply
only for mafias and saboteurs."
On the death penalty clause in the Bill, Singh said this
would be applicable in "rarest of the rare cases against the
mafias and saboteurs."
Singh said the word "wilfully has been inserted in the
Bill" to safeguard innocent people who have either
accidentally or by mistake caused harm to any pipeline.
Pilferage of petroleum products from pipelines and damage
to infrastructure would attract a punishment of rigorous
imprisonment of not less than three years and may extend up to
10 years for the second and subsequent offence.
The Minister said in the last five years, Rs 16.04 crore
has been lost in 230 cases of pilferage of pipelines.
He said in the next Plan period, Government has plans to
lay over 18,000 km of pipelines for petroleum products.
Initiating the debate, Rajiv Pratap Rudy (BJP) sought
making farmers stake-holders in the protection of pipelines
passing through their land.
Disagreeing with provisions of six-months imprisonment for
removal of a signage, Rudy said giving officials right of
policing over private land was wrong as it will encourage
Birender Singh (Cong) too suggested making farmers a
partner in protection of pipelines and demanded that they must
be paid some royalty or rent for use of their land.
Avtar Singh Karimpuri (BSP) suggested setting up of a
special task force for providing protection to the pipelines
as farmers would be unable to challenge Naxals and protect the
Mani Shankar Aiyar (Nom), a former Petroleum Minister,
said the clause to lay the onus on the accused to prove
innocence is like the Prevention of Terrorist Activities
(POTA) and it should be looked into.