Communal Violence Bill gets Cabinet nod

Navin Patnaik
New Delhi, Dec 17: The Communal Violence Bill gets the Cabinet nod on Dec 16, a decision that may make a lot of amendments in the way the state functions during a communal crisis.

Despite opposition from BJP's Prime Ministrial candidate Narendra Modi, Tami Nadu's chief minister J Jayalalitha, Odisha Chief Minister Navin Patnaik and West Bengal's chief minister Mamata Banerjee, the Bill was supported by the ruling UPA, SP and BSP.

If the Bill is passed at the Parliament, it would be reworked to form a neutral frame of jurisdiction, not blaming the majority or the minority community responsible for the violence. However, if the crisis goes beyond control, it is essentially the states or the bureaucrats to be held responsible. However, bureaucrats who refuse to pay heed to the unlawful orders of their superiors would be immuned to the dereliction of the duty.

Narendra Modi, however, considers the Bill as "ill-conceived, poorly drafted and a recipe of disaster" and sought wider consultations. Moreover, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind chief Maulana Mahmood Madani threatened political leaders of a "befitting reply from the people" if the anti-riots bill was delayed.

Bill(ing) points

The new Bill will have several amendments in the original draft, relieving many elements and burdening several others with added responsibilities.

1. The NAC draft bill had defined a riot-hit group "as a religious or linguistic minority" and had assigned a national authority for communal harmony to monitor action taken by states to prevent and control communal violence. The latter is replaced by NHRC in the new bill.

2. The draft bill states that communal violence includes "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 religious or linguistic identity".

3. As per the new Bill, the punishment for organized communal violence is likely to be life imprisonment; funding of communal violence with three years or fine or both; dereliction of duty with imprisonment ranging from two years to five years; hate propaganda with up to three years' imprisonment or fine or both; and breach of command with imprisonment of up to 10 years.

4. The Bill also covers the compensation factor, stating Rs 7 lakh be given to the next of kin of those killed in communal violence, Rs 5 lakh for rape, Rs 3 lakh to 5 lakh for disability, and Rs 2 lakh for grievous injury.

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