Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Major mistake

Major mistake

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: June 27, 2011
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/major-mistake/809088/0

The National Advisory Council has drafted the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill - a bill that is both vague and bludgeon-like in its terms. The proposed law adds little to make our investigation and prosecution machinery more accountable. We already have a whole array of laws in the CrPC to deal with violence, which do not deter communal incidents or force an incompetent, weak-willed, even complicit state apparatus to act. This bill, far from filling the gaps in our current laws, adds another confusing layer: a seven-member National Authority for Communal Harmony, Justice and Reparation composed of people who represent a range of religious and linguistic minorities, and have displayed "high moral character". This draft again draws attention to the fundamental cognitive kink in the Central government's approach: its belief that a quota-created panel of good elders can be trusted to resolve things.

Victimhood and agency are already assigned in this bill - and the "group" that this law tries to protect can be defined as religious or linguistic minorities, or SC/ STs, a large and variegated category of sufferers. But the bill, conditioned by the traumatic memory of the 2002 Gujarat riots, fails as a comprehensive legal response to situations of communal violence. Its anti-federal tilt is clear, giving the Centre and the National Authority new powers to intervene in a state's law and order problem. And as the National Commission for Minorities Chairman Wajahat Habibullah, has observed, this bill seems to repose inordinate trust in the police and administrative machinery rather than finding a way to empower the victimised community. Most of all, as eminent and involved jurists like B.N. Srikrishna and J.S. Verma have pointed out, this bill is practically useless in dealing with aspects that make organised communal violence a special case. It says nothing about preventive arrests after intelligence tip-offs, attempts to contain the spread, etc. No standard measure for reparations and relief has been laid down. It makes no attempt to ensure that FIRs and investigations are taken seriously. So why have this bill at all? If the CrPC was found lacking in certain situations of premeditated group violence, then those aspects should be directly addressed.

If anything, the anti-communal violence bill reflects a Twenty20 approach to lawmaking - one that focuses on quick-and-dirty workarounds rather than refining the law that exists. Sticking a legislative label on our most intractable problems and setting up a caucus of good people to oversee it is no alternative to really taking on the problem, with method and commitment.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements