Anti-Lynching Law – UPSC GS1

  • 28 people were killed in 63 such incidents from 2010 to 2017 in cow vigilantism.
  • About 86% of those killed were Muslims. In 21% of the cases, the police filed cases against the victims/survivors
What is lynching?
  • Lynching is a premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group. It is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate a group.
  • It is an extreme form of informal group social control and often conducted with the display of a public spectacle for maximum intimidation.
  • It is to be considered an act of terrorism and punishable by law. Instances of lynching and similar mob violence can be found in every society.
Who is responsible to manage it?
  • As per the Constitution, ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects and State governments are responsible for controlling crime, maintaining law and order and protecting the life and property of the citizens.
  • National Crime Records Bureau does not maintain specific data related with respect to lynching incidents in the country.
Why anti-lynching law is necessary?
  • It fills a void in our criminal jurisprudence.
  • There is “no separate” definition for lynching under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • Such incidents could be dealt with under Sections 300 and 302 of the IPC which pertain to murder.
  • At present there is no law that criminalises mob killings. The Indian Penal Code has provisions for unlawful assembly, rioting, and murder but nothing that takes cognisance of a group of people coming together to kill (a lynch mob).
  • Under Section 223 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), to prosecute together two or more people accused of the same offence committed in the course of the “same transaction”.
  • But the provision falls far short of an adequate legal framework for prosecuting lynch mobs
  • Many states have passed their anti-lynching laws.
Reason for the rise in lynchings
  • Major reason for the recent rise in lynchings is impunity.
  • The lynch mobs that murdered several people were confident of getting away with it. So far, the state has done little to shake that confidence.
  • The problem is not mob lynching per se but the mob lynching of minorities, for that is where impunity kicks in.
  • In the case of cow-linked lynchings, a lot depends on whether the incumbent in power considers it compatible with its political interests to crack down on such attacks.
Ways to combat the impunity enjoyed by anti-minority lynch mobs
  • Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011, or the Anti-Communal Violence Bill
  • Police reforms, which are pending despite the Supreme Court ordering their implementation
  • But the Anti-Communal Violence Bill was buried because it was felt that it threatened the autonomy of States by mooting a parallel structure that undermined federalism.
Anti-Communal Violence Bill
  • It fixes command responsibility for communal incidents
  • It recognises that targeted communal violence disproportionately victimises minorities
  • It creates a mechanism to insulate investigations of communal violence from political interference
National Campaign Against Mob Lynching (NCAML)’s draft Protection from Lynching Act, 2017
  • Defines the terms ‘lynching’, ‘mob’ and ‘victim’ of mob lynching
  • It makes lynching a non-bailable offence, criminalises dereliction of duty by a policeman, criminalises incitement on social media, and stipulates that adequate compensation be paid, within a definite time frame, to victims and survivors.
  • It also guarantees a speedy trial and witness protection.
SC View:
  • SC condemned the recent spate of lynchings as horrendous acts of mobocracy and told Parliament to make lynching a separate offence.
  • It said the primary obligation of the government is to protect all individuals irrespective of race, caste, class or religion.
  • Crime knows no religion and neither the perpetrator nor the victim can be viewed through the lens of race, caste, class or religion.
  • It directed several preventive, remedial and punitive measures to deal with lynching and mob violence.
  • It ordered the Centre and the States to implement the measures and file compliance reports within the next four weeks.
  • Lynchings cannot become the order of the day.
  • It ordered the Centre and the States to take immediate steps to stop the dissemination of fake news or stories on social media, which has a tendency to whip up a mob frenzy.
  • The court ordered the State governments to have a special task force to procure intelligence on people likely to spread hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news in each district.
  • The police shall register an FIR under Section 153A (promoting enmity) of the IPC against the suspects.
  • If found guilty, a person faces up to five years of imprisonment.
  • The trial shall be held in a fast-track court on a day-to-day basis and completed in six months.
  • Maximum sentence should be granted to the guilty to make an example of them and serve as a deterrent.
Way forward
  • The draft anti-lynching law needs to be revised to incorporate key elements of the Anti-Communal Violence Bill.
  • Demand for an anti-lynching law needs to be buttressed by a parallel campaign for police reforms.

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