NAC approves draft on communal violence

New Delhi: The National Advisory Council (NAC) on 28 April finalised a draft bill to curb the menace of communal violence in the country. The Bill includes within its purview attacks against Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes and religious minorities. The linguistic minorities too were included in the Bill in the backdrop of the attacks on Hindi-speaking people in Mumbai by Shiv Sena’s goons.

The draft “Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill” seeks to hold public officials accountable for failure of law and order in their respective areas. A meeting of the NAC, presided by the chairperson Sonia Gandhi, has decided to put the draft bill in public domain to invite comments which will be considered at the NAC’s next meeting on 25 May.

Mass violence which is widespread or systematic in nature has been defined specifically in the draft bill as “organised” communal and targeted violence. The Bill seeks to strengthen the rights of the victims through a series of new provisions beginning from the simple right to information at all stages. It also includes the right to get copies of all their statements, to be heard in a court of law, to adduce evidence, to protection, to appeal, and to file a complaint with the National Authority/State Authority if and when they are aggrieved by failure of the system to protect and secure for them justice and reparations.

The Bill casts legal duties on the State to provide rescue, relief, rehabilitation, compensation and restitution, to ensure that victims are restored to a situation better than which prevailed before they were affected by targeted violence.

The NAC observed that a major obstacle in prosecuting public servants is the provision for getting sanction under Sections 196 and 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. “The Bill provides that if such sanction is not granted by the state within a period of 30 days from the date of application to the state government, sanction to prosecute will be deemed to be granted,” said an NAC member.

MG News Desk

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2011 on page no. 4

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