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Communal Violence Bill heading for cold storage?

Published: 05th May 2013 09:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th May 2013 09:40 AM   |  A+A-

By PTI

The controversial Communal Violence Bill, which aims to protect minorities from targeted attack, is unlikely to be passed during the UPA-II rule with the Law Ministry raising objections to its draft and the Home Ministry mulling further consultations with state governments.

Raising objections to certain clauses, the Law Ministry has returned to the Home Ministry the draft bill which "largely sticks" to the provisions in the 'Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011' prepared by Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council.

The bill proposes to impose duties on the central and the state governments and their officers to exercise their powers in an impartial and non-discriminatory manner to prevent and control targeted violence, including mass violence against religious or linguistic minorities, SCs and STs.

The bill also proposes constitution of a body -- National Authority for Communal Harmony, Justice and Reparation -- by the Centre to exercise the powers and perform the functions assigned to it under this Act.

The Law Ministry is said to have favoured further strengthening of the provisions of the bill and without any infringement on the powers vested on the state governments.

"We have to have more consultations. More discussions are also required with the state governments which are the major stakeholders in any disturbing situation," a senior Home Ministry official told PTI.

Home Ministry officials feel that the consultation process may take months as most of the non-Congress state governments are vehemently opposed to many provisions of the bill.

The BJP has strongly opposed the proposed legislation and termed it as "dangerous", saying it will harm the federal structure of the Constitution. It has also questioned how the bill could presume that the majority community is always responsible for riots.

The proposed legislation is also likely to face opposition from Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal, AIADMK and Akali Dal which are in power in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Punjab respectively.

The bill also provides for transfer of cases outside the state concerned for trial and take steps to protect witnesses, sources said.

The bill was first introduced in Rajya Sabha in 2005 and subsequently referred to the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs.

The Committee submitted its report in 2006 to Parliament and notices were given in March 2007, December 2008, February 2009, December 2009 and again in February 2010 in Rajya Sabha for consideration and passing of the Bill.

The bill, however, could not be taken up for consideration on any of these occasions.

Thereafter, several suggestions from civil society groups were received and examined. Finally, the NAC said in July 2010 that there was a need to revise the law to deal with communal violence. It worked on a draft bill and submitted it on July 25, 2011 to the Home Ministry.



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