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Posted Online on Saturday, 16 June 2007 20:35 IST

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Muslim Islamic NewsCommunal Crimes Bill 2005 rejected by jurists, academicians and activists

The Milli Gazette

16 June 2007

Following is the text of the PUBLIC STATEMENT Released at the NATIONAL CONSULTATION
on The Communal Violence (Prevention, Control & Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005

June 16, 2007, New Delhi

The completion of three years of the UPA Government is an opportune moment to take stock of what the Government has achieved in terms of justice for communal crimes. The demand for a law on communal violence emerged from a brutal record of recurring violence in our country, the increasing occurrence of gender-based crimes in communal conflagrations, and complete impunity for mass crimes. The reasons are many - lack of political will to prosecute perpetrators, State complicity in communal crimes, lack of impartial investigation, and lack of sensitivity to victim’s experiences. But there is also, crucially, the glaring inadequacy of the law. Today, despite huge strides in international jurisprudence, India continues to lack an adequate domestic legal framework, which would allow survivors of communal violence to seek and to secure justice. 

The UPA Government’s Common Minimum Programme (CMP) had promised to give the citizens of this country a ‘comprehensive legislation’ to fill this legal vacuum. We were promised a legislation that would strengthen the hands of the citizens in the struggle against communalism, and allow us to prosecute for mass crimes committed with political complicity and intent. While the country does need a strong law on communal violence, this present Bill is totally misconceived. What we have before us today is a dangerous piece of legislation called the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control & Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill 2005, which will not only fail to secure justice for communal crimes, but will actually strengthen the shield of protection enjoyed by the State, its political leaders and its officials for their acts of omission and commission in these crimes. It is a Bill, which conceives of communal violence as a ‘one time’ event rather than as a long-term politically motivated process, and seeks to prevent it only by giving greater powers to (often communally tainted) State governments. Further, it continues to perpetuate the silence around gender-based crimes. 

It is a travesty that a Bill of such fundamental importance in addressing the challenges posed to the secular character of our society and polity, was drafted by the Government without any real consultative process involving civil society. At this National Consultation on the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control & Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill 2005, we the undersigned, reject this Bill in its entirety. The assumptions of the Bill are so flawed that it cannot be remedied by amending a few components. We therefore reject this Bill and ask the Central Government to forthwith set up a Drafting Committee to formulate an entirely new bill on communal violence, with the active participation of civil society through an open, transparent, and public process. Eminent jurists, civil society activists, academics and legal experts who have engaged on the ground and in court rooms with communal crimes must be part of such a process. A statute which is sincere about addressing gaps in criminal jurisprudence, must base itself on the experiences of victims of communal violence over the last 60 years, the recommendations of various Commissions of Enquiries and international covenants to which India is a signatory. 

Endorsed by:
Justice A M Ahmadi, former Chief Justice, Supreme Court
Justice Hosbet Suresh, former Judge, Mumbai High Court
Justice K K Usha, former Judge, Kerala High Court
Justice Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice, Delhi High Court
Justice Sardar Ali Khan, former Judge, AP High Court
Professor K.N. Panikker, former VC, Shree Shankaracharya University, Kerala
Harsh Mander, Social Activist (Aman Biradari)
Professor Rooprekha Verma, former VC Lucknow University
Colin Gonzalves, Supreme Court Advocate, Delhi
Dr. Ram Puniyani, Social Activist, Mumbai
Professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy, JNU, Delhi
Anil Chaudhary, PEACE, Delhi
John Dayal, Senior Journalist & Social Activist, Delhi
V.N. Rai, IPS, Lucknow
K.S. Subramanian, former IPS, Delhi
P.J.G Nampoothiri, former NHRC Spl Rapporteur, Gujarat
Dr. Abdul Salam
Zafar A. Haq, FFCL, Delhi
M. Hilal, FFCL, Delhi
Abid Shah
Uma Chakravarti, Feminist Historian, Delhi University
Hanif Lakdawala, Sanchetna, Gujarat
Prasad Chacko, Action Aid, Gujarat
Kavita Srivastava, Social Activist, Rajasthan
Mehak Sethi, Lawyers Collective, Delhi
Ajay Madiwale, HRLN, Delhi
Avinash Kumar, Oxfam, Gujarat
Ravindra, Lawyers Collective, Delhi
Sophia Khan, Safar, Gujarat
Vrinda Grover, Advocate, Delhi
Usha Ramanathan, Senior Law Researcher, Delhi
Madhu Mehra, Partners for Law in Development, Delhi
Dr. Pratixa Baxi, JNU, Delhi
Zakia Johar, Action Aid, Gujarat
Niti Saxena, AALI, Lucknow
Saumya Uma, WRAG, Mumbai
N.B.Sarojini, SAMA, Delhi
Soma K.P
K.A. Salim
Sharafudheen M.K.
Jahnvi Andharia, Anandi, Gujarat
Gauhar Raza, Anhad, Delhi
Anjali Shenoy
Asmita Asawari
Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad, Delhi
Gagan Sethi, Janvikas, Gujarat
Farah Naqvi, Delhi

New Delhi, June 16th, 2007

NATIONAL CONSULTATION ORGANISED BY ANHAD, DELHI
With inputs from Justice Ahmadi, Farah Naqvi and Gagan Sethi (CSJ)
Anhad may be contacted at anhad.delhi@gmail.com

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