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NAC favours drastic changes in Communal Violence Bill

July 14, 2010 21:16 IST

The National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi favoured drastic amendments to the Communal Violence Bill and recommended the creation of a national authority to check communal and sectarian violence. This was the view expressed by most members of the NAC at its meeting chaired by Gandhi. At its next meeting, the NAC is expected to deliberate on how a national authority could set up within the framework of the Constitution to oversee actions taken by states to tackle communal violence.

The members also suggested incorporating curbing of sectarian violence in the draft legislation which has been virtually in cold storage for the past many years after its introduction in the Rajya Sabha five years ago. The Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill was introduced in the RajyaSabha in 2005. Sources said there is an uniform view in among the NAC that the Bill in its present can be redrafted to provide for stricter punishment for officials found having malafide intentions while dealing with incidents of communal violence. The current Bill has provisions for three years imprisonment or a fine if it was proved that the state officials had any malafide intention while dealing with communal violence. There was a general feeling that the punishment should be more strict and easily implementable.

A section of the members felt that the the current provisions were not implementable and officials could get off the hook easily. The NAC also suggested that the Bill be renamed as Communal and Sectarian Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill. "We have given a fresh lease of life to Bill," said a member of the council. Some members were of the view that the two organs of the Ministry of Home Affairs -- The National Integration Council and the National Harmony Foundation --lacked teeth and have been of little use to check instances of communal violence.

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