Communal Violence Bill will not disturb federal structure: Patil

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Special Correspondent

Says the proposed law provides for adequate compensation to victims

BANGALORE: Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil on Tuesday said the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control, and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill 2005 will not disturb the federal structure and it provides for adequate compensation to the victims.

Mr. Patil said: "The Bill will strike a balance between the powers of the State and Union governments. Let us not disturb the federal structure."

The Union Minister was addressing a "Southern Region Conference on Communal Violence" to discuss the pros and cons of the Bill and elicit public opinion. The seminar is the second in the series of six such events to be held in the country.

Mr. Patil said there was no law that defined the rights of survivors of communal violence for rescue, relief and rehabilitation. The Bill has made a provision for setting up Communal Disturbance Relief and Rehabilitation Councils at the national, State and district levels for planning relief and rehabilitation measures and their coordination, monitoring and implementation. It has powers to facilitate speedy prosecution of cases relating to communal violence.

The Centre and the States will draw up guidelines for the assessment of compensation for losses suffered during communal violence and contribute the amount, he said.

The Bill envisages immediate distribution of at least 30 per cent of the compensation. "Funding is not going to be a problem and adequate compensation will be given."

The Supreme Court has stated that Rs. 7 lakhs will be the benchmark for compensation.

The most important suggestion to emerge at the seminar was the right of the victim to participate in the case.

There is a provision to allow the victim to participate in the prosecution.

Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh said it is the duty of society to counter divisive forces.

The Bill has taken into account failures and inadequacies in dealing with communal situation in various parts of the country.

He said it is unfortunate that religion is being used by fanatics to divide the nation and communities.

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