Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005, Possible Questions

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Possible Questions

  1. Is a communal violence bill needed? Aren’t the existing provisions in law enough?

  2. What are the major features of the communal violence bill?

  3. How can communal harmony be promoted in the country? Suggest steps.

Why a Law Needed?

  • Commissions of enquiry setup after every major conflagration have consistently come down heavily on the State authorities as also certain parties and organisations for their role in violence

  • However, it is in very rare cases that perpetrators have been convicted.

  • By and large, police and the administrative class have been left untouched by the law

  • Hence, a carefully designed law on communal violence is the need of the hour more arguments for a separate law

  • It can be seen that various provisions exist in the IPC to punish the perpetrators of violence. Under sections 153A and B of the IPC even hate speeches are actionable. Similarly, even a public servant can be charged under the ordinary law.

  • So it seems that at least a section of communal or targeted violence can be dealt with under the existing criminal law.

  • Failure to implement the law rather than its absence is one of the major problems confronting the prevention of communal violence.

  • But caveats exist

    • Turning a blind eye to communal and targeted hate speech

    • Refusal to register FIRs or registering them without naming the culprits even when some of the perpetrators are identified

    • Refusal to take adequate action to disperse mobs

  • However there are large areas where laws are absent or inadequate

  • Mass violence is a quantitatively different category from stray individual violence. The impact and trauma of mass violence is long term and ongoing.

  • Second, though laws exist on hate speech, they cannot be set into motion without the prior sanction of the government. In this case what really matters is which party is in power.

  • Third, even to prosecute public servants it becomes necessary to obtain the consent of the state which is a long, tedious process.

  • Fourth, a large number of cases in court collapse because witnesses are too frightened to depose truthfully. Though an individual witness can ask for police protection against threats there is no comprehensive witness protection law in India

  • Fifth, while in the aftermath of every carnage a relief and rehabilitation package is announced, there is no uniformity in these packages. There is no legislative mandate or compulsion for reparation including relief and rehabilitation.

  • Besides, communal violence is a specific form of brutality which is required to be dealt with in a holistic and comprehensive manner since it includes within it element of hate propaganda, sexual assault, uprooting of communities, societal bias, state complicity and judicial indifference.

  • A law which deals specifically with targeted or communal violence thus becomes necessary

Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005

Objective:

  • Prevention and control of communal violence

  • Speedy investigation and trials

  • Rehabilitation of victims

  • Sets conditions for the state government to declare an area as communally disturbed.

  • A competent authority can take measures (such as regulating assembly, directing persons to deposit their arms etc) to control communal violence.

  • Special courts to try offences under this law. Increased punishment.

Image of Communal Violence

Image of Communal Violence

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Features in the Draft Bill

  • Union Home Minister headed 11 member national council to oversee relief and the rehabilitation of victims Civil society is proposing instead a Communal harmony Justice and Reparation Commission (CHJRC) with national, state and district councils and wider powers

  • There is a provision to declare certain areas as communally disturbed. Civil society objects to this on the ground that such declaration would give the government a free hand to use draconian laws in such areas

  • This bill has been amended by the NAC and a new draft introduced in 2011.