statesman news service
New Delhi, 5 December
In the face of strong opposition from the BJP and some non-Congress state governments over the proposed communal violence Bill, the Centre is said to have decided to dilute various provisions of the Bill to rein in its role with regard tackling communal riots in states and to ensure that the proposed legislation is community-neutral.
The Centre’s move came even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today that the government will try to evolve a broad-based consensus on issues which are of “great” legislative importance on a day when BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi dubbed the Bill as a “recipe for disaster”. Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the government will bring the ‘Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2013’ in the current winter session of Parliament.
Mr Singh spoke of consensus as he sought the cooperation of all sections of Parliament to ensure smooth passage of the planned legislations like the Bills relating to communal violence and women’s reservation.
Government sources said the fresh initiative to amend the provisions of the draft Bill has been taken in the wake of criticism by the BJP, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. The draft Bill is now made neutral between communities and the Central government will not have any perceived overriding powers anywhere.
The earlier version of the Bill specifically mentioned that the onus of riots lay on the majority community. Sources claimed the Bill is not hitting the federal structure of the country as feared and the Central government’s role will largely be of coordination and will act only when the state government seeks help.
The fresh draft says, “if the state government is of the opinion that assistance of the Central government is required for controlling the communal violence, it may seek the assistance of the Central government to deploy armed forces of the Union for such purposes…”
Earlier, the Centre was given unilateral powers to send Central paramilitary forces during the outbreak of communal violence without consulting the state government. The BJP has said it will oppose the legislation.