Punjab Chief Minister has called on Union Home Minister recently, seeking his intervention in getting the President’s assent on two sacrilege Bills passed by the Punjab government in 2018.

 

About the bill

  • The Punjab Assembly had unanimously passed The Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, and The Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill in 2018.
  • It stipulates punishment upto life imprisonment for injury, damage or sacrilege to Guru Granth Sahib, Bhagwat Gita, Holy Quran and Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people.
  • The Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018, seeks to amend the IPC by inserting Section 295AA.
  • Under the existing Section 295 A [Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs], a convict can be awarded a maximum of three years’ imprisonment with or without fine.

 

What is the Governor’s function in passing a Bill?

  • Under Article 200, the Governor may —
      • grant assent
      • withhold assent
      • return for reconsideration by the Legislature or
      • reserve for the consideration of the President any Bill passed by the State legislature and presented to him for assent.
  • There is no timeframe fixed in the Constitution for any of these functions.
  • The Constitution makes it mandatory that the Governor should reserve for the President’s consideration if, in his opinion a Bill that “so derogates from the powers of the High Court as to endanger the position which that Court is by this Constitution designed to fill”.
  • In addition, the governor can also reserve the bill if it is of the following nature —
      • Ultra-vires, that is, against the provisions of the Constitution.
      • Opposed to the Directive Principles of State Policy.
      • Against the larger interest of the country.
      • Of grave national importance.
      • Dealing with compulsory acquisition of property under the Article of the Constitution.