Bill intrudes upon powers of elected State governments, says Gujarat Chief Minister

A day after he wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opposing the Prevention of Communal Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2013, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has shot off a letter to his counterparts of other States to join forces and oppose the Bill.

Mr. Modi urged the Chief Ministers to “rise above political affiliations” to “together oppose the Bill, which intrudes upon powers of elected State governments.” He wanted them to deliberate on the issue and take up the matter with the Centre. He asserted that the Bill “would polarise society on religious and linguistic lines and introduce the idea of differential application of criminal law to citizens based on religious and linguistic identities.”

Mr. Modi had described it as a “recipe for disaster.”

The United Progressive Alliance government, trying to address concerns over the provisions of the Bill, had stated that consensus of all stakeholders will be sought.

Bill regressive,says Chouhan

Bhopal Staff Reporter writes:

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan on Friday termed the revised version of the communal violence bill “regressive.” In a letter to the Prime Minister, he said the bill was “based on the dangerous assumption that law enforcing functionaries and other instrumentalities of the State are automatically colluders in perpetuation of communal violence.”

Several recent bills, including the land acquisition bill, showed “a persistent trend of the Centre towards framing laws on State subjects.”

Mr. Chouhan criticised clause 3(F) of the bill, which criminalises hate propaganda as being vague and open to misuse. He also highlighted Clauses 92, 7 and 81A, which respectively provide no time bar on the prosecution, define communal violence and provide for the establishment of a communal violence reparation fund from State coffers. “This amounts to a fine and has a hidden implication that the State governments are responsible for the occurrence of communal violence.”

He added, “... instead of suitably amending and strengthening certain provisions of the Cr.PC and the IPC, a statute is proposed to be created by incorporating provisions of existing laws.”

He urged the Prime Minister not to table the bill in the winter session as it, in the State’s opinion, ran counter to the spirit of the Constitution and “will serve no useful purpose.”