December 27, 2004 | Comments Off
In late July, the government of Dr. Manmohan Singh proposed a new law to combat communal violence. In August, a group of human rights activists, jurists, and retired police officials released a draft model law, called the Prevention of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Act 2004. In December, another collection of human rights groups proposed a draft bill:
The draft bill has been prepared by four voluntary groups — Delhi-based Human Rights Law Network and Anhad, Ahmedabad-based Jansangharsh Manch and Mumbai-based Centre for Study of Society and Secularism….
Accusing the political parties in power and the police of being active participants in communal riots, the rights groups have proposed a 32-page draft bill.
It calls for punishment to people making hate speeches on communal lines. It suggested a ban on educational material that creates communal hatred.
The state should act to stop the economic and social boycott of one community by another. Mander pointed out that many housing societies in Gujarat have banned Muslims. He wants the state to stop such segregation.
The draft bill proposes a law to stop people from destroying religious structures and a ban on the use of cultural symbols as weapons. It criticises the distribution of trishuls (tridents) by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
The law calls for punishing policemen who do not register cases or do not investigate communal violence. It wants to hold the police responsible for providing security to the victims.
It wants action against lawyers and doctors who discriminate on communal lines. Mander said some bar associations in Gujarat had passed a resolution asking members not to defend members of the minority community.
It seeks verification of public prosecutors, who are appointed by the state government, to filter out those aligned with communal groups.
The Law Ministry is currently sorting through various drafts and other notes it received from the Home Ministry:
Well-placed Law Ministry sources say that the Home Ministry has forwarded a handful of drafts and dumped papers from symposiums and seminars asking it to frame the law. “Apart from the definition of communal violence and a provision for compensation to the victims, the Home Ministry appears confused on the issue,” the sources said. Though there is no tussle between the two crucial Ministries, the lack of clarity and focus has led to delay in framing the law…
The Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, has said that the new law would define communal violence as the law does not draw a line between communal violence and a law and order problem.
The Minister is also keen on incorporating a clause for awarding compensation to the victims of communal violence through some kind of “community fine.”
The Ministry is also learnt to have suggested the constitution of designated and special courts in each State to expedite the trial pertaining to communal violence and hate crime cases.