Centre to revive Communal violence bill
Keeping in mind the coming elections, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is reviving the controversial communal violence bill, gathering dust in the North block for close to two years now, empowering the Centre to declare an area communally disturbed for deploying security forces even without the consent of the state.
The ministry has sought legal vetting of the Union Law Ministry on the draft bill UPA is keen to table in second half of the budget session of Parliament which begins on April 22. The cabinet will take up the revised draft of the bill, seeks to protect religious and linguistic minorities, post nod from the law ministry.
Union Minister for Minority Affairs K Rahman Khan is believed to have laid stress on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Shinde to bring the bill in the coming session of Parliament. Though it would be difficult for the UPA to get the bill passed from both the Houses given the paucity of numbers, the Congress hopes to reap political advantage merely by introducing it in both the Houses as it would send the right message to the minorities ahead of crucial elections to six states and later Lok Sabha.
Other than that, it would help the party target the BJP as well as the Samajwadi Party in the Uttar Pradesh which has witnessed communal violence often.†
After the bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha way back in 2005, it was referred to the Standing Committee on Home for deliberations. The report of the standing committee was not acceptable to the Muslims which prompted the ministry to rework on it, said sources.†††
The ministry’s draft “largely sticks” to the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council’s (NAC) version of the Prevention of Coomunal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011.
Earlier, the Home Ministry had to shelve the bill owing to strong opposition from political parties, especially the BJP which had termed the move as “dangerous” and an intrusion into the federal structure of the country.†††
Many political parties had reservation on the bill content given the provisions included transferring of the communal cases outside the state for a just trial.To check the bias administrations have displayed in handling communal cases in the past, the draft bill binds the Central and the state governments and their bureaucracy 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, Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes.
The first cut of the bill drafted by the Home Ministry was earlier rejected by the NAC.