Centre revives communal violence bill; eye on polls? - The New Indian Express

Centre revives communal violence bill; eye on polls?

Published: 22nd October 2013 07:34 AM

Last Updated: 22nd October 2013 10:35 AM

All set to play its final trump card ahead of the 2014 general elections, the UPA Government is likely to push for the controversial Communal Violence Bill in the Winter Session of Parliament.

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials are dusting off the long-pending bill, which was earlier opposed by the BJP, who termed it ‘anti-majority’. Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the department concerned has already started working on the bill, but no time frame was fixed for its introduction.

On being asked whether the bill will be tabled in the Winter Session, Shinde said he was not sure. “But yes, work has started on it, ” he added. The controversial bill was first introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2005 and was later referred to the Standing Committee on Home Affairs. The panel had submitted its report the following year, but due to strong objection from the Opposition and reservation expressed by the state governments on certain clauses of the bill, it could not be introduced in Parliament.

During the UPA-2 regime, the National Advisory Council, headed by Sonia Gandhi, redrafted  and submitted the bill in its new avatar ‘Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, 2011’ to the MHA in July 2011.

The state governments had slammed the Centre for interfering in their domain and working against the basic tenets of the federal framework of the Constitution. Even officials in the Home and Law ministries had raised objection on certain clauses of the draft bill, which directly makes an officer responsible if communal violence erupts.

The provision for punishment of bureaucrats has been made in Section 14 of the bill, which has fixed the responsibility of public servants who failed to take necessary measures  to prevent or repress the commission of said offences or failed to submit the matter to the competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.

The BJP, taking strong objection to the bill accused the government of trying to communalise the country.

“We are in support of a law to stop communal violence. But in this bill some provisions were made deliberately to target certain organisations and groups. Let’s see in what form it comes to Parliament,” BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

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