lynching law in India
The layman term for lynching is when people take the law into their hand. People/ crowd/ Mob kill someone who they believe to be guilty.
Supreme court ordered parliament to make new lynching law
Supreme court on Tuesday (17.07.2018) pronouncing its judgment on Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi asked parliament to make new rules on lynching. The court observed that “extrajudicial” acts like “vigilantism” cannot be allowed and asked center and state government to frame new laws. According to various reports, mob violence has killed more than two dozen people in this year.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud directed,
“Apart from the directions we have given hereinbefore and what we have expressed, we think it appropriate to recommend to the legislature that is, the Parliament, to create a separate offence for lynching and provide adequate punishment for the same. We have said so as a special law in this field would instil a sense of fear for law amongst the people who involve themselves in such kinds of activity”
“Horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be allowed to become a new norm,”it has to be curbed with an iron hand.”
“No citizen can take law into his hands or become a law onto himself,”
“state cannot turn a deaf ear to the growing rumblings of its people”
The Court further said, “We have said so as a special law in this field would instill a sense of fear for law amongst the people who involve themselves in such kinds of activities.”
Further, the ordered that it’s ordering should be implemented within four weeks by the center and state government. Supreme court will again take the matter on 20th August.
“It is axiomatic that it is the duty of the state to ensure that the machinery of law and order functions efficiently and effectively in maintaining peace so as to preserve our quintessentially secular ethos and pluralistic social fabric in a democratic set-up governed by rule of law,”
The court gives guidelines
to the Centre and the states such as fast-tracked trials, victim compensation, deterrent punishment and disciplinary action against lax law-enforcing officials. Further, the court ordered that the cases shall be tried on a day to day basis and preferred to be concluded within six months. In its 45-page judgment, the court pointed that lynching incidents were on the rise because the rule of law had failed in our country and that we had lost sight of the idea of “unity in diversity” (in specific response to cow vigilantism). The meat of the judgment lay in the last 8-9 pages or so, containing particular directions on preventive, remedial and punitive measures that governments should take up to tackle such incidents.
“To set a stern example in cases of mob violence and lynching, upon conviction of the accused person(s), the trial court must ordinarily award maximum sentence as provided for various offences under the provisions of the IPC,”
- The states shall designate a senior police officer, not below the rank of police superintendent as nodal officer in each district
- The state governments shall immediately identify districts, sub-divisions, and villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past. The process of identification should be done within a period of three weeks from the date of the judgment
- It will be the duty of the Centre and the states to curb the dissemination of irresponsible and explosive messages, videos and other material on social media platforms
- The central and state governments should broadcast on radio, television and other media platforms, including the official websites of the home department and the state police, that lynching and mob violence will invite serious consequence
Previous incidences where the court ordered in lynching
It is the second time that the top court has issued directions to check vigilante justice. In September last year, it had published specific guidelines, including the appointment of nodal officers, to prevent cow vigilante groups from resorting to mob violence against cattle traders.
In the most recent incident, a mob Friday set upon four men who were on a pleasure trip through the southern state of Karnataka convinced that they were child kidnappers. The men managed to escape, but WhatsApp messages are warning of kidnappers in a red car triggered a chase and an attack that killed one of the men, a software engineer named Mohammed Azam Ahmed, police said. Police eventually arrested several of the attackers, including the administrator of the WhatsApp group that had spread false warnings.
India has been grappling with rising lynch-mob incidents since 2015 when a Muslim man was killed in a village outside New Delhi because his Hindu neighbors had become convinced that he was in possession of beef. The slaughter of cows is illegal in many parts of India because the majority Hindu religion believes cows are sacred, and much of the vigilante violence until this year was done in the guise of so-called “cow protection.”
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Existing lynching law in the world
Many countries have tried to solve the issues of lynching by controlling the fake news. In Malaysia, according to recent lynching law, a person was convicted of publishing fake news.
Nigeria has also made lynching law, and it is working very efficiently. Three black legislators including Indian American Kamala Harris introduced an anti-lynching bill in the US Senate last month.
Moving the bill, Democrat Senator Kamala Harris said more than 200 anti-lynching bills had been introduced to Congress since 1918 when Republican Representative Leonidas Dyer of Missouri had launched the first. In first of its kind act, the US Senate passed a resolution in 2005 apologizing for not giving an anti-lynching law in 100 years.
India does not have a specific law to deal with lynching. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not mention the word “lynching.” However, Section 223(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 states that persons or a mob involved in the same offense in the same act can be tried together. Somehow this provision has not helped in delivering justice in cases of lynching.