Thursday, October 31, 2013

Communal Violence Bill - an hour

It is 10 in the night and I have started reading the draft of the communal violence bill. The pdf is 56 pages long, find it here. Ram Jethmalani calls it legislative garbage and unconstitutional. Subramanian Swamy has been vocal about it ever since it came into the public framework. Madhu Trehan, leaves you with this question:

Niticentral rips it to shreds (includes an Arun Jaitley piece as bonus).Firstpost says, Congress stirs the communal pot again.

So I try to read it. It starts off with a rather startling sentence, "That it will be applicable to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir". Funny I thought, considering that Kishtwar was rocked by communal violence as recently as in August.

But I continue. 

Much of it is legalese, so I could not follow it much, but this caught my attention,

"group” means a religious or linguistic minority, in any State in the Union of India, or Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes within the meaning of clauses (24) and (25) of Article 366 of the Constitution of India"

(not sure of the implications of this one)

Upon the sole testimony of the victim of sexual assault, the Designated Judge appointed under this Act may conclude that an offence of sexual assault has been committed by the accused against the said victim.
(Clear mischief possible here, I dont know legal stuff, but this reads like that)

If in a prosecution for any offence committed under this Act, it is shown that the accused committed or abetted or conspired to commit the offence of hate propaganda under section 8, it shall be presumed, unless thecontrary is proved, that the offence committed was knowingly directed against a person by virtue of his or her membership of a group. 

(and here, presumption of offence - this is interesting, in a country where terrorists have to commit an offence or kill people before they are caught according to our human rights wallahs)

What this means to me is that any thing that is done by a minority community (and usually that means only one thing in this secular nation) will be pardoned. That means, something like a Direct Action day of 1946, will be perfectly legal, under this draft. Most likely, you learnt a sanitized, sterlized version of this in your history books, if at all. Time to educate yourself then.

Of course, 2010 Deganga riots (WB), 2012 Assam riots, 2013 Canning riots (again WB) or even the ongoing Muzaffarnagar riots would not constitute an offense under this law. Or perhaps even the murder of Swami Lakshmananda would not attract attention from the makers of this grand proposal.

 So, an hour later, I am still trying to think what is this government trying to do by passing such a one sided legislation?

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