My opposition to the introduction of the Communal Violence Bill

Posted on February 05, 2014, No Comments admin

The Home Minister Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde today wanted the leave of the House to introduce the Prevention of Communal Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2014. I objected to the introduction of the Bill on the ground of lack of legislative competence in the Parliament to enact the law. My opposition was based on the legislative entries contained in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. List II of the Seventh Schedule is the State list. Entry 1 deals with the Public Order. Entry 2 deals with Police and Entry 41 deals with the Public services of the States. These are matters exclusively within the domain of the State. The central legislature has no legislative competence to enact on these issues.

The Bill as proposed creates a new category of offences. It deals with declaration and notification of areas which are disturbed areas. It suggests steps for prevention of acts in relation to communal violence. It has a chapter dealing with maintenance of public order. It then deals with the compensation mechanism and action to be taken against officers of the state government and the penalties which can be imposed upon them. All these matters are exclusively within the domain of the state executive. The response of the union Law Minister was that federalism is not threatened as long as the power in relation to each of these subjects vests in the State executive. My response was that that there is a clear distinction between legislative power and the executive power. The legislative power is the power to enact a law. Executive power is a power under the legislation to undertake necessary steps. My objection was based on the lack of legislative competence. The Centre cannot say that by enacting, I am giving the power to the officers of the state because under List II, Entry 1, 2, 41 the power does not belong to the Centre in the first instance. Almost all Opposition parties supported the view taken by the BJP. The Bill has therefore rightly been deferred at the introduction stage itself.

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