Many of the arguments speakers sought to make against the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill 2011 during the Hindu Hitarakshana Vedike protest on Wednesday appear far-fetched, even if one takes a cursory glance at its provisions.
Right-wing organisations such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal, Sri Rama Sene, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, and others have been staging protests over a year saying the proposed Bill is “anti-Hindu” and that Hindus would have no protection under the law.
However, two of the speakers during Wednesday's protest sought to argue that once the bill comes into force, no legal action could be taken against a Muslim person to the extent of disregarding other laws of the country, including the Indian Penal Code. The head of Vajradehi Math Shri Rajashekarananda Swami said according to the bill, the police would not register complaints made by Hindus.
Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat, Dakshina Madhya Kshetriya Samparka Pramukh of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, said if a person from a minority community wanted to rent a house and was refused on grounds that the owner preferred vegetarians, the proposed Bill would allow the former to lodge a complaint with the police that “his sentiments had been hurt”. Such an offence is not included within the ambit of the Bill.
Mr. Bhat said after the Bill was passed, the police would not register a complaint against minorities even if they snatched a chain or a girl became victim of the so-called “love jihad”.
Under the IPC, depending on the circumstances of the crime, chain snatching can be booked under sections relevant to theft and robbery. The Karnataka police in April 2010 informed the High Court that the “love jihad” allegations had been looked into and that there was no organised attempt by any group or individual to entice girls or women into marriage.
The Bill only covers offences of communal and targeted violence, and allows for the prosecution of officials who have been shown to be guilty of dereliction of duty for offences under the Act.
The chapter on offences includes sexual assault, hate propaganda, organised communal and targeted violence, and aiding offences under the Act. According to the Bill, communal and targeted violence was defined as “any act or series of acts, whether spontaneous or planned, resulting in injury or harm to the person and or property, knowingly directed against any person by virtue of his or her membership of any group”. Mr. Bhat said Hindus would not be considered a victim if they suffered bodily injury or property damage. But under the Bill, a victim was defined as “any person who has suffered physical, mental, psychological or monetary harm or harm to his or her property” as a result of targeted violence, and under Section 87, all victims were legally entitled to compensation and rehabilitation irrespective of what group they belong to.