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Published in the 16-31 March 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Minorities panels to discuss draft Bill on communal violence

The Milli Gazette Online

With one year left for it to complete the tenure, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) is busy with various measures. The NCM held a conference with the state minorities commissions on February 10-11 in New Delhi. Inaugurating the conference, Union home minister Shivraj Patil said that the draft Bill to tackle communal violence would be circulated for eliciting public opinion. The NCM asked the home ministry to send the proposed Bill to it. This would be put for discussions with the state minority commissions and constitutional experts in a meeting to be convened by the NCM. 

The commission asked some provisions to be incorporated in the Bill, a provision on the lines of Section 153 A of the IPC to prevent the delivery of provocative and inflammatory speeches, registration, investigation and trial of offences under the proposed law in accordance with the Provisions of Cr.PC 1973 and power to union government to issue directions to all public servants to refrain from causing disharmony, compulsory and time bound inquiry into all incidents of sectarian violence leading to death, injury and destruction to properties including minority educational institutions and desecration of religious places, special courts with powers for summary trials and day to day hearings, mandatory requirement for the police to establish centres for recording FIRs (also by women constables to facilitate lodging of complaints by women and children) in the riot affected localities for a definite period of time and also in all the relief camps wherever set up, mandatory payment of compensation for death, injury and damages to properties and places of worship, uniform set of compensation amounts, setting up of special prosecutor office to handle criminal prosecution of public servants accused of human rights violation including cases of brutality and corruption in incidents of sectarian violence, mandatory recording of the statements of material witnesses before a judicial magistrate in the courts of the investigation and thereby deter such witnesses from turning hostile during the trial.

The Commission urged all the state governments which have not yet formed a Minority Commission to form the one immediately. Presently Orissa, Kerala, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir and Haryana do not have Minority Commission at state level. 

In her address Union social justice and empowerment minister Meira Kumar said that the government has recently enhanced the authorised share of National Minorities Development and Finance corporation to 650 crore. She stated that on October 29, 2004 a commission for religious and linguistic minorities was set up to recommend measures for the welfare of socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities. Minister of state for social justice and empowerment, Subbalakshmi Jagadeesan, and the chairman and members of the 13 state commissions also attended the conference. 

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