Communal Violence Bill, 2011, the Draft Law Features, Some Issues with the Draft

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Communal Violence Bill, 2011

Communal Violence Bill, 2011

The Draft Law Features

  • Defines communal and targeted violence as
    • Any act or series of acts, whether spontaneous or planned, resulting in injury or harm to the person and or property, knowingly directed against any person by virtue of his or her membership of any group, which destroys the secular fabric of the nation
  • Elaborate definition of sexual assault to cover not just women but men as well
  • Apart from treating some of the offences under the IPC as crimes under this law, the bill also creates certain additional offences like torture, command responsibility, etc
  • Public Servants
    • Penalises public servants for torture to specific groups
    • Penalises for dereliction of duty
    • Breach of command responsibility treated as an offence
    • Public servants with the duty of maintenance of public order also given the duty to prevent communal and targeted violence
    • Command Responsibility: Any public servant in command of forces who fails to exercise control over his sub-ordinates which results in offences under the bill shall be guilty of breach of command of responsibility

Emergency Provisions Can be Invoked

  • The occurrence of communal and targeted violence shall constitute ‘internal disturbance’ within the meaning of Article 355 of the constitution and the Central Govt may take such steps as the nature and circumstances of the case so requires.
  • Witness protection provisions are incorporated.
  • Accountability framework set up concerning the police.
  • Entails the provision of relief and rehabilitation. Creates the Communal and Targeted Violence Relief and Rehabilitation Fund
  • National Authority for communal harmony, justice and reparation
  • The authority can initiate investigation and enquiry into complaints
  • Similarly, state authorities for communal harmony, justice and reparation
  • The act waives constitutional immunity for the purpose of proceedings under the act

Some Issues with the Draft

  • The law applies to only the minorities – religious or linguistic – in a state (SCs and STs)
    • This assumes that the majority community is always the perpetrator of violence and never the victim
    • This criticism however misses the basic point of democracy: that majority can take care of itself but minorities need certain protection
    • Article 29 and 30 in the constitution are such provisions
    • Worldwide minorities are protected through laws – blacks in US, aborigines in US
  • Communal violence defined in terms of an act that destroys ‘the secular fabric of the nation’
    • This definition is liable to be misconstrued
    • Even large scale riots may not present an actual threat to the secular fabric of the nation.
  • The incorporation of the emergency provision


  • Amended draft of the Communal and Targeted Violence Bill is a major step forward.
  • However, it needs to incorporate within it lessons learnt from recent international advancement especially in matters pertaining to reparation and command responsibility.
  • The chapters concerning setting up of national and state level bodies need a complete review as do the provisions concerning dereliction of duties and witness protection

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