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Report No. 249

2. Collective Fines Ordinance, Ordinance 20 of 1942

Category: Criminal Justice

Recommendation: Repeal

The Ordinance provided for the imposition of collective fines. It empowered the State Government to impose collective fines on the inhabitants of an area if it appeared that the inhabitants are concerned in or abetting the commission of offences prejudicially affecting the defence of India, public safety, maintenance of public order, efficient prosecution of war, maintenance of supplies or services necessary to the life of the community, or are harbouring persons concerned in the commission of such offences.

The imposition of collective fines may be in violation of Articles 14, 20 and 21. In Lakhan Rai v. State of Bihar [1992 (1) BLJR 38], the Patna High Court considered the Bihar Collective Fine (Imposition) Act, 1982, and upheld it on the ground that it contained adequate safeguards such as hearings and appeals related to the imposition of fines. No such safeguards exist in this Ordinance, which may render it unconstitutional. Further, there is no evidence of reported use of this Ordinance. Hence it should be repealed.


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