Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Communal Violence Bill : Flaws and Implications

Communal Violence Bill - Presentation at CIPL, Dec ’11
Presentation Transcript
1. On the Implications of the Communal Violence Bill Shantanu Bhagwat 24th December ’11 Chanakya Institute of Public 1

2. Background/ Reasons To protect the “minorities” “A polity which is just, fair and equitable needs to protect the weaker sections, minorities, SCs and STs” – Hon Sh Kapil Sibal Is the way to achieve this ad-hoc laws or an efficient judicial system? To correct “systemic bias in the administrative & criminal justice machinery against disadvantaged groups” – John Dayal What is the basis of this assertion? Can a “systemic bias” be really corrected with a law? Source: Communal Violence Bill divides society by Prof Hilda Raja

3. Background/ Reasons Unstated underlying assumption that the majority community are the perpetrators of violence in case of communal clashes Contrary to facts?* In a study of 74 communal riots between 1953 – 1977 in Gujarat and Rajasthan, 75 per cent were found to have been instigated by wayward members of the minority community This study was done by a member of the “minority” community, Ms Zenab Banu (Politics of Communalism: a Politico-historical Analysis of Communal Riots in post- Independence India with Special Reference to the Gujarat and Rajasthan Riots (1989)) Source: Communal Violence Bill divides society by Prof Hilda Raja

4. The Motives Who is this meant for? Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes already have a full- fledged Commission with powers of civil courts to take care of their problems Linguistic Minorities? Even though one of the conclusions of the Ranganath Misra commission was that their situation differs from state to state ..and that they are neither a caste, class or a religious community “…assistance in identification and reburial of the bodies in accordance with the cultural practices of the families and communities*” (at Pg 50, under “Guarantee of non-repetition”) A pathetic vote-pulling tactic? Source:

5. Fundamental Flaws Under clause 73, presumption of guilt unless proven to the contrary* All offences cognisable and non-bailable (clause 58) The special public prosecutor to conduct proceedings under this act shall not act in aid of truth but ‘in the interest of the victim’ Communal and targeted violence means violence which destroys the ‘secular fabric of the nation’ No definition of “secular fabric” Creation of an over-arching institution (complete with communal quota) with draconian powers Right to enter properties (clause 33[4]), control “media content” (clause 8 and 67[1]), inquire into the conduct of the armed forces “more powerful than any authority created since adoption of Constitution in 1950” – John Dayal * Sources: Swapan Dasgupta in The Pioneer; Sh Arun Jaitley in Rediff

6. The Implications Frighteningly broad-based Sweeping in scope Even crimes that may have nothing to do with religion are now being sought to be defined on communal grounds (e.g. sexual offences) Similarly A shopkeeper or a businessman from the minority community can always allege that his partners from the majority community have cheated him because of his community and religion and the law will have to take notice of his complaint. Under Clause 14, office bearers of organisations will be held responsible for any offence committed wittingly or unwittingly by a member of the organisation And ambiguous.. Can a Hindu criticize burqa without worrying about being sued under this law on charges of spreading hate? Can a Hindu landlord be charged with "depriving place of living“ (under Article 3(F)) if he asks his Muslim tenant to vacate? Source: “Hole in the Bucket” Prof Rakesh Sinha, India Policy Foundation

7. The Implications Section 120 makes it almost impossible for state administrations to demolish illegal Muslim or Christian religious structures Lop-sided “Attempt to spread hatred and tension” one-sided; If “minorities” make such attempts, they will not be considered offensive under the new law Permanent “victimhood” According to the Bill the “victim” will under all circumstances belong to the minority community in case of riots/ violence No member of the majority community can ever be a “victim” Conversely, no member of the “minority” community can ever be charged under this draconian law Source: “Hole in the Bucket” Prof Rakesh Sinha, India Policy Foundation

8. The Implications The section 2 (6) of the Bill says that the punishment under this Bill would be separate and in addition to the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 Does this mean that an offence would be dealt with under two legal and criminal laws and procedures and that there would be two kinds of punishment for the same crime? Against federal structure; Interference in state affairs This bill - if passed into law - will allow the Centre to interfere in cases of communal violence even though they are primarily a matter of law and order (and thus under State jurisdiction) From an implicit assumption of bias it is a short distance to an explicit statement about the incompatibility between a “minority” and majority. What happens then? Source: “Hole in the Bucket” Prof Rakesh Sinha, India Policy Foundation

9. Concluding Points Not just a flawed bill but positively dangerous The psychological partition of India Deepening of existing fault lines Further alienation ..and another dent in the edifice of a national identity In extremis, further disintegration of the Union Source: “Hole in the Bucket” Prof Rakesh Sinha, India Policy Foundation

10. Questions? Comments? Jai Hind, Jai Bharat! Shantanu @


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