Indian Bishops: Urgent need for law on inter-religious violence
by Santosh Digal
The Indian Catholic Church explains the controversial points of the Communal Violence Bill (CVB), still stalled in the approval process. Opponents consider the draft unconstitutional given the government's ability to override the central state authorities in cases of response to violence against minorities.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The Communal Violence Bill (CVB) is a "urgent" and "important" law for a mature democracy like in India say the Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) commenting on the non-inclusion of the law on inter-religious violence in the winter parliamentary sessions. Commissioned by Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council (NAC), the CVB gives the central government the power to intervene directly in cases of inter-religious violence, bypassing the state authorities. The need for this law has arisen since the events of Gujarat (2003) and Orissa (2008) where, in front of huge Muslim-Hindu violence and radical Hindus against Christians, Delhi was not able to operate without the request of the local government.
Opposition forces, some allies of Gandhi, and activists continue to criticize the bill, found to be unconstitutional for this opportunity given to the central authorities. For the Bishops' Conference the law is designed to ensure the state authorities perform their duties fairly and impartially. To support this, the CBCI has clarified two points deemed "controversial" by detractors of the CVB.
The first concerns the definition of "group", understood as a religious or ethnic minority, in any Indian state, or castes and tribes recorded in accordance with the provisions 24 and 25 of Article.366 (definition of castes and tribes, ed) in the Constitution. "For critics - said the CBCI - this affirmation divides the nation. But nowhere in the law discriminates against the majority. Indeed, the CVB is to allow victims of majority community as well as those of minority communities to enjoy the same rights. "
The second controversy revolves around the direct intervention of central government and the power of the national authorities to make provisions to state officials. In fact, as explained by the Bishops' Conference of India, "the law only provides for the establishment of a national authority, an external body with the task of monitoring the cases of inter-religious violence. This body would only be informative, recording the cases in which juridical loopholes have been found. "