What is Punjab's Sacrilege Law ?

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The Punjab government passed the amendment the Article 295 of the IPC(Indian Penal Code) on 21 August 2018 under Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Giving life imprisonment for whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to the Guru Granth Sahib, the Bhagwad Gita, the Quran and the Bible. 

[295A. Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs.—Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of 273 [citizens of India], 274 [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 4[three years], or with fine, or with both 
 section 295AA that is sought to be added to the penal code — which will make causing of “injury, damage or sacrilege” to the Guru Granth Saheb, Bhagwad Gita, Quran and Bible with the “intention” to “hurt” the “religious feelings” of “the people”, punishable with life imprisonment

  • sacrilege - violation or misuse of what is regarded as sacred.

Why sacrilege law was required?

  • CM Amarinder Singh said there have been attempts to disturb the peace and communal harmony in the State by committing the sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwad Gita, and Holy Quran.
  • Aimed at preserving public order, as Punjab had suffered heavily from sacrilege 
  • to Stop miscreants creating disorder and tension by malicious acts such as damaging or desecrating a holy text.
Drawbacks to this bill.

  • unnecessary, loosely drafted and excessive.
  • Sparked fears of its misuse among political opponents, the defenseless and the weak,
  • Restricts the freedom of expression and protest.
  • 295A was already heavily misused, the new amendment can be even worse

Historical Note

  •  the British enacted the Indian Penal Code which penalized desecration of holy places and cemeteries, drawing on sacrilege laws around 1860's
  • The British-era section 295A of the penal code which was created by Christians who ruled India is extant and has not been repealed; it contains an anti-blasphemy law.
  • Section 295A was introduced in 1927 to prevent hate speech that insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of any class of citizen with deliberate and malicious intention to outrage their religious feelings but the main purpose of this law has been to maintain "public order in a multireligious and religiously sensitive society."

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The Radical - Information That Matters: What is Punjab's Sacrilege Law ?
What is Punjab's Sacrilege Law ?
The Radical - Information That Matters
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