Law on Mob Lynching
Law on Mob Lynching
Mob Lynching, a form of violence in which a mob, under the pretext of administering justice without trial, executes a presumed offender, often after inflicting torture and corporal mutilation. The term lynch law refers to a self-constituted court that imposes sentence on a person without due process of law. Mob lynching is a term used to describe the acts of targeted violence by a large group of people. The violence is tantamount to offences against human body or property- both public as well as private. The mob believes that they are punishing the victim for doing something wrong (not necessarily illegal) and they take the law in their own hands to punish the purported accused without following any rules of law. Aptly referred to by the hon’ble Supreme Court as a ‘horrendous act of mobocracy’ mob lynching's have a pattern and a motive. More often than not, innocent people are targeted on the basis of some rumor, misinformation or suspicion. The mob constituted an unlawful assembly under Section 141 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and police was authorized to use force to disperse that assembly vide Section 129 of the CrPC, 1973. Under law, illegal acts include illegal omission (S. 32 IPC). Police were legally bound to protect the people being hounded and their inaction amounts to an illegal omission for which they can be booked under section 299 (culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal Code. In this context, the Supreme Court in 2018 described lynching as a “horrendous act of mobocracy” and laid down guidelines for the Centre and State governments to frame laws specifically to deal with the crime of lynching.
- -In pursuance of this, the Manipur government came up first with its Law against lynching in 2018.
The Manipur Law is in sync with the Supreme Court guidelines. The Manipur Law defined mob lynching's as “any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting such act/acts thereof, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds.” The Law specified that there would be nodal officers in each district to control such crimes. It states that Police officers who fail to prevent the crime of lynching in their jurisdiction are liable to be imprisoned for a term that may extend from one to three years with a fine limit of ₹50,000. All hate crimes can be penalized under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, relating to foster enmity between people on the basis of religion, race, language and so on. Under the Manipur law no prior sanction is required to register crimes against public officials who fail in their duties to prevent hate crimes such as lynching. The Law clearly lays down the duty and responsibility of the State government to make arrangements for the protection of victims and witnesses against any kind of intimidation, coercion, inducement, violence or threats of violence. The Law requires the state to formulate a scheme for relief camps and rehabilitation in case of displacement of victims, and death compensation.
- -Inspired by this Rajasthan and West Bengal have formulated their version of laws to curb mob lynching.
The West Bengal law is more stringent as it provides for punishment for lynching to death, is punishable with the death penalty or life imprisonment and a fine of up to ₹5 lakh.
- -The Bills on mob lynching that have been passed by the Manipur and Rajasthan under Section 300, 302, 304(A), 331 and 339 of IPC and there is no specific law to deal with it.
Landmark case :- The 2015 Dadri mob lynching refers to case of mob lynching in which a mob of villagers attacked the home of 52 year old Mohammed Akhlaq, killing him, for suspicion of slaughtering a cow. The attack took place at night, on 28 September 2015 in Bisara village, near Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, India. The mob, consisting of local villagers, attacked Akhlaq's house with sticks, bricks and knives, saying that they suspected him of stealing and slaughtering a cow calf. 52-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq Saifi (Ikhlaq according to some sources) died in the attack, and his son, 22-year-old Danish, was seriously injured. Later an Indian court found prima facie evidence of meat that may have been either mutton or beef, and ordered registration of a first information report against the slain Mohammed Akhlaq. Later it was proved by a forensic lab in Mathura that it was cow meat. The then state government changed the original report and concluded that he was not storing beef for consumption.
- -Supreme Court order on mob lynching strong, but new law will be useless unless existing rules are enforced
The judgment on lynching is very strongly-worded and the court has acknowledged that this is a matter of grave concern. Coming from the Constitutional Court, this is welcome, as we've seen a spurt in mob lynching's, both, on religious grounds, as well as, of individuals who are mistaken to be child-lifters. The bench, while directing Parliament to draft a new legislation to effectively deal with incidents of mob lynching, told the Centre and state governments to take preventive measures to control the spread of messages on social media platforms which can incite a mob to lynch. Explicitly, the Supreme Court directed the police to register an FIR under Section 153A of IPC and other such provisions of law against those who indulge in these kinds of activities. In an attempt to make the trial process quicker, the Supreme Court has proposed day-to-day trial in fast track courts and additionally, maximum punishment to the accused in mob lynching cases.
- -Most importantly, states have been told to take disciplinary action against police officers who have failed to prevent such incidents in spite of having prior knowledge of the same or on purpose fail to institute criminal proceedings against those involved.
Centre will look into the issue of whether there is a need for making amendments to Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code to deal with cases of mob lynching's across the country. Government informed the Rajya Sabha that letters have been written by the Home Ministry to all state governments and union territories inviting their suggestions on this issue.
Thanks & Regards, Minakshi Dhakate