New Delhi: The Communal Violence Bill, an initiative of the previous UPA regime, seems to have been put on the back burner by the NDA government with the Home Ministry unlikely to push the controversial legislation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had dubbed the bill as a “recipe for disaster” when he was chief minister of Gujarat.
Home Ministry officials said there has been no discussion at all on the ‘Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill ever since the new government assumed charge and the legislation did not figure in any discussions either with Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
“The bill is not in sync with the new government's thinking. So, we have decided not to bring it into the table,” a Home Ministry official said.
The UPA government, which tried to enact the bill with stringent punitive provisions, had faced strong opposition from BJP and several chief ministers, including West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu's J Jayalalithaa.
Just before the last session of the 15th Lok Sabha in February, the UPA government tried to bring the draft bill to the House by dropping several provisions including making it neutral to all communities and reducing the role of the central government in case of riots.
Earlier the bill specifically mentioned that the onus of riots lies on the majority community.
The draft bill is made neutral to all groups or communities and the central government will not have any alleged over-riding powers anywhere. Besides, the central government's role will largely be of coordination and will act only when the state government seeks help.
Earlier, the Centre was given unilateral powers to send central paramilitary forces in case of communal violence without consulting the state government. However, there were no takers for even the diluted version of the legislation.
BJP had been maintaining it opposed to it on the ground that it would be a “threat to India's communal harmony”.
In a letter to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Modi termed the bill as a “recipe for disaster” and said
the timing to bring the bill was “suspicious owing to political considerations and vote bank politics, rather than genuine concerns”.