Mumbai: Citizens group on Tuesday demanded that in
the proposed Communal Violence Bill 2009, which is likely to
be placed in the Parliament during the current session, the
State should be made more accountable and also
victims/survivors should be empowered adequately.
The NGOs working on civil rights said here today that
they reject the Bill in its current form as it will fail to
secure justice for communal crimes and will infact strengthen
the shield of protection enjoyed by those who plan and sponsor
these crimes, including public officials.
The NGOs including All India Secular Forum, Citizens
Initiative for Peace, Institute of Peace Studies and Conflict
Resolution said although several discussions and debates were
held during the last four years on the Bill but the UPA
government has now introduced an impressive sounding 59
amendments into the Communal Violence Bill 2009 which are
merely cosmetic changes.
"They do not incorporate a single concern expressed by
members of civil society," the Bollywood actor cum director
Nandita Das said on behalf of the civil rights activists.
"The Law should empower the people and not the
perpetrators of crime," Das said.
Irfan Engineer, another civil right activist said the
objective of the Bill should be ensure effective and prompt
response of the government to prevent and control communal
violence empowering the victims and survivors.
The NGOs, who is going to hold a public debate on the
Bill on March 26 in the city, said the Bill should redefine
communal violence and also define new offences, rules of
procedure and evidence and not merely restrict itself to those
enumerated in the existing criminal law.
The Bill should include the concept of reparations as an
inviolable, legally enforceable right of the victim/survivor,
and according to objective norms and scales that are binding
on all governments, Soumya Uma, another activist said.
They also asked the government to delete provisions
related to declaration of `communally disturbed areas` as
these give greater and unchecked powers to the State in these