New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Monday 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 Lok Sabha on Monday provides for jail of a minimum of ten years rigorous imprisonment for acts of terrorism.

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 stated.

Prior to the amendment, the Act provided for jail term of one to three years for acts of sabotage and pilferage.

"The Bill aims to make provisions for sufficient deterrence to criminals from committing the offence of pilferage or sabotage," an official statement issued said.

Replying to the debate on the amendment bill, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas R P N Singh said the existing sections of the Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines
(Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Act 1962 does not contain adequate provisions to prevent the incidents.

Acts of sabotage to any crude oil, petroleum product and natural gas would be punishable with rigorous imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine.

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.

"...whoever, with the intent to cause or knowing that he is likely to cause damage to or destruction of any pipeline, caused by fire, explosive substance or otherwise damage to, or destruction of, any pipeline being used for transportation of crude oil/petroleum product/gas with the intent to commit sabotage or with the knowledge that such act is so imminently dangerous that it may in all probability cause death of a person of such bodily injury likely to cause death of any person, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which shall not be less than ten years and may extend to imprisonment for life or death," the amended act stated.

The act provides that whoever willfully removes, displaces, damages or destroys any pipeline, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment of a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 16 provides that offence under sub-section 15 shall be deemed to be cognizable under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The Bill further proposes to amend section 16 of the Act to make the offences of sabotage cognizable and non-bailable.

In reply to the debate, Singh said petroleum products are hazardous and emphasised that the organised gangs carryout sabotage or pilferage on the pipeline.

(Agencies)