'Is this Pakistan?' Punjab Cabinet faces ire for making sacrilege of religious text punishable for life

Whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwad Geeta, Holy Quran and Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people shall be punished.

'Is this Pakistan?' Punjab Cabinet faces ire for making sacrilege of religious text punishable for life

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Cabinet's decision to make sacrilege of religious texts punishable has left Congress red-faced. The Cabinet on Tuesday gave its nod to make amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to make sacrilege of religious texts punishable with life imprisonment.

The government has taken a major step towards curbing such incidents and maintaining communal harmony in the state, an official spokesperson said.

The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. "The Cabinet today decided on amendments to IPC to make sacrilege of all religious texts punishable with life imprisonment. We will place the Bill in the Vidhan Sabha for approval. I stand firmly committed to preserve communal harmony in the State," Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh tweeted on Tuesday. 

An official spokesperson said that whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwad Geeta, Holy Quran and Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people, shall be punished.

The Cabinet's nod, however, has led to people terming the decision as an insult to democracy. Many even compared it to the Blasphemy law in Pakistan. 

The Cabinet okayed the withdrawal of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2016, passed in the 12th Session of 14th Vidhan Sabha, 2016.

The Punjab Assembly in 2016, when the previous SAD-BJP government was in power, had passed the Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2016 and Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2016. The amendments at that time were brought to seek life imprisonment for sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib.

However, later, the Centre reportedly raised objection to the amendment, asking the state that the punishment of life imprisonment could not be limited to desecration of holy book of just one religion instead it should be for all religions.

Punjab witnessed some incidents of sacrilege in recent years and it also became and election issue in the Assembly polls last year. 

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