Communal violence bill creates ruckus in Rajya Sabha

Shinde asked to defer its introduction

Communal violence bill creates ruckus in Rajya Sabha

The final session of the 15th Lok Sabha witnessed a stormy start on Wednesday with the government facing embarrassment for deferring the introduction of a bill to prevent communal violence in the Rajya Sabha.

Similarly, the Lok Sabha witnessed uproarious scenes as several members trooped into the Well of the House raising issues ranging from bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh to racial discrimination against people from the north-east, forcing adjournment of the House.

The government was left red-faced as it was forced to defer the introduction of the Communal Violence Bill in the Rajya Sabha after a united opposition argued that the legislation was against the federal structure of the Constitution.

An ugly spat broke out between members of the ruling Congress and the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Law Minister Kapil Sibal’s argument that the bill was necessary as state governments like the one in Gujarat disrupted law and order led to angry responses from the BJP.

“The Central government has no jurisdiction to formulate this bill,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said, opposing the motion to introduce the bill.

He was joined by several opposition leaders, including members from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam,  All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Samajwadi Party, who agreed that the bill impinged upon rights of the state governments. 

The issue also brought arch rivals Left and Trinamool Congress together. Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien accused the Centre of “butchering” the concept of federalism.

Sibal’s clarification that the Central government will not have any powers to take a decision as that power will be with the human rights commission failed to calm the opposition members.

As the uproar continued, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to defer the introduction of the bill. Later, Jaitley wrote on his blog that the bill, as proposed, seeks to create a “new category of offences”. 

“It deals with the declaration and notification of areas which are disturbed areas. It suggests steps for prevention of acts in relation to communal violence. It has a chapter dealing with maintenance of public order.

“It then deals with the compensation mechanism and action to be taken against officers of the state government and the penalties which can be imposed upon them,” he wrote.

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