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Disputed term “Group” in Communal Violence Bill, 2011

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Since the drafting of Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparation) Bill, 2011, it has come under the light of dispute along with its opposition from various political parties and legal scholars. Recently, it was termed by some political leaders as a threat to the National Unity. It would be very important to notice as to what are the points under this draft which makes it so controversial in the eyes of so many political leaders and legal scholars. In recent times, India had to witness a huge political chaos. Initially, it had to witness the issue relation to Lokpal Bill and then Communal Violence Bill.

Although, Communal Violence Bill could not get much importance and remained hidden. But, the issue relating to Communal Violence Bill is as important as that of Lokpal Bill, and for that matter the issue which has been raised by Baba Ram Dev. Some political leaders have also demanded the implementation of Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State Relations, and also the implementation of Venkatachalaiah Commision in order to establish independent collegiums for the selection of chiefs of the CBI, the CAG and CVC with re-visiting the role of a Governor.

The Bill has been proposed by National Advisory Council which is currently headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Section 3 (j) of the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparation) Bill, 2011 [Hereafter, it would be referred as “Bill”] states that a person can become a victim of violence as mentioned under this bill only if he belongs to certain groups. Now, it would be necessary to read the definition of a “group” defined under this bill.

Section 3 (e) states that “group” means a religious or linguistic minority, inany 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. This means that if a person belongs to any of the above groups as mentioned under this bill, then he can be subjected to violence. Hostile environment can only be created for these groups under Section 3 (f) of this Bill.

But, it would be absurd to conclude that people belonging to the groups other than those mentioned under the bill, cannot be subjected to violence. This provision of the bill may come under the ambit of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. And if it comes under the ambit of Article 14, then it would be very difficult to understand as to why only a particular group of Indian society is included under the act. There are various other flaws in this bill which would be discussed in other posts e.g. Federal Structure, Centre-State Relation etc..This post is confined to the issue relation to that of term “group”. Laws are enacted taking into account the conditions prevalent at the time of enacting it, and there would also be some strong reasons behind including only certain groups of society within the ambit of the bill. There are some laws which have been enacted keeping in mind the patriarchal nature of the society for e.g. IPC. There are some provisions in IPC which clearly indicate that women section was not empowered at that time e.g. Rape, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence. There was indeed a perception which has been followed even today, and which has lead to the enacted of various women oriented laws. But, there have been many instances when men have been subjected to violence, and cannot raise their voice in the matter due to lack of any law. One of the best Example in this regard would Domestic Violence.

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