With the Left parties out of the United Progressive Alliance, the Union home ministry has decided to pull out the communal violence law shoved into the deep freezer last year and seek Parliament’s approval at its session beginning this week.
Home Minister Shivraj Patil will shortly move Parliament to seek the legislative seal of approval on the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha three years ago.
The decision comes in the backdrop of series of incidents in Orissa and Karnataka that have brought the central government under tremendous pressure from its allies like the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party as well as its constituents that want the Congress-led coalition to be seen taking concrete steps. The meeting of the National Integration Council was the first step in this direction.
Patil had got clearance from the Union Cabinet in March 2007 to move official amendments on recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee headed by BJP leader Sushma Swaraj. The Home Ministry, however, did not push the legislative proposal in wake of protests from the UPA's Left allies who wanted the law to open doors for a greater central role. "The political compulsion to get the Left's nod does not exist any longer," a senior home ministry official said.
A senior Home Ministry official said the government had started out drawing up the legislative draft to seek chalk out a central role. The government's in-house legal experts insisted that this central role was in violation to the federal structure.
"We are going to give a fresh notice for consideration and passage of the bill," a home ministry official requesting anonymity said.
There will be no summary trials under the communal violence legislation to be put to vote in the Rajya Sabha in the Budget Session.
Under its March 2007 decision, the government had decided to dispense with provisions for summary trial and empowering the Centre to establish additional special courts outside a state that has witnessed communal violence. The two provisions were part of the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill that was zealously drafted by the UPA government to prevent a repeat of the 2002 Gujarat riots.