Communal violence bill may raise storm

The Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill contains a clause that will allow the Central government to declare an area in a state as communally disturbed. This is likely to be opposed by the states, especially the non-Congress ruled ones. However, in order to deploy security forces, the permission of the state concerned would be needed.

The draft Bill also seeks to set up special courts to try cases registered in a communally disturbed area. It also provides for the Supreme Court to transfer cases from one court to another and take steps to protect witnesses.

Another clause stipulates three years’ imprisonment for violation of section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code - illegal assembly of more than five persons at a time and at a place - in a communally disturbed area.

A similar Bill was earlier introduced in Parliament in 2005. A Parliamentary Standing Committee, scrutinising the Bill, had raised certain queries stalling the UPA government’s plan to introduce the legislation. It lapsed subsequently.

A section which empowers the Central government to send forces to communally-disturbed areas was the bone of contention. Almost all political parties, including the Left, had expressed reservation about this provision.

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