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Tuesday, 1 May 2012


Worse than the Disease
Sam Rajappa

The draft legislation called 'Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparation) Bill 2011" must be viewed in the light of the Congress wooing of minorities for their vote. Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh's description of the now-dead Islamic terrorist Osama bin Laden, who was killed by Americans, as "Osamaji" must be viewed in this light to understand the extent the party goes to woo the Muslim vote.

The real aim of the proposed legislation is to keep the minorities firmly tied to the Congress and arm the Union government with extraordinary powers, which do not have the sanction of India's Constitution. This will also enable the centre to impose its will on the states.

Most of the NAC members are also part of NGOs that operate on foreign funds, and represent vested interests of foreign powers. The chairperson of the NAC is slowly assuming the role of a supra-Prime Minister with no accountability. The body is becoming an instrument for maladministration.

The draft bill presumes that communal violence is the handiwork only of the majority community and never the minority community. The most crucial and contentious definition of the bill is the term "group". Since offences under this bill would be in addition to offences under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, the bill in effect, would mean that a person can be punished for the same crime twice. This is a sheer atrocity on any canon of civilized jurisprudence!

Instead of reducing communal violence, the bill gives a fillip to the privileged "groups" (under the definition of this bill) to commit offences, secure in the knowledge that they would never be held culpable.

The special public prosecutor to conduct proceedings under the proposed law shall act not based on the actual facts of the case, but "in aid of the victim", who of course, will always be from the minority community. Thus, anti-majority bias is sought to be inherently built into the legal process itself. The basic principle of equality before law has been dispensed with. 

The statutory authority prescribed at the state and centre itself suffers from institutional bias because its membership structure is biased-based on religion and caste. This will only sharpen the communal divide and create disharmony in inter-communal relations. Since it defies the basic principle of equality before law, it is fraught with dangerous consequences.

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