In a past few years the incidence of mob lynching has raised to another level and hence the fear within people. Mob lynching is refereed by the Supreme Court as the “horrendous act of mobocracy”, has created atmosphere of terror within the secular state. The incidents have cast a shadow on the justice system. Shallow knowledge of the Justice Systems poses a threat to principles of Natural Justice. The murder by a mob simply because there is no law criminalising it is a shameful thing. Due to growing number of mob lynching cases it is called “national epidemic.”
Mob lynching refers to the informal public executions or extrajudicial killings of a person by an angry mob whom they consider an offender. This angry mob kill or try to kill someone illegally as a punishment. The mob do not consider the consequence of offence either because they don’t understand the law or do not value the law. Mob Lynching violate ones right to life and right to fair trial. It has been witnessed in many of the lynching cases so far that the victim doesn’t have means to save their lives from getting lynched.
- The 2017 Alwar district case which attracted the attention of people where some people belonging to Muslim community were accused of cow smuggling in Alwar district of Rajasthan and the lynching led to the death of Pehlu Khan, the cow smugglers according to the angry mob.
- Another instance of brutality can be witnessed in the 2020 Palghar mob lynching incident which exhibited the extent of brutality within people that the sadhus had no means to save themselves. In Palghar district of Maharashtra the two sadhus and their driver were brutally attacked with axes leading them to death. It was rumoured on WhatsApp that there were thieves, child-kidnappers and organ harvesters active in the area. The victims were mistaken for being child thieves and organ harvesters.
LAWS AND THE SUPREME COURT’S STAND
Mob lynching being a brutal crime don’t have codified law. However, currently mob lynching cases are covered under Indian Penal Code 1860 to some degree
- Section 302 (murder),
- 307 (attempt to murder),
- 323 (causing voluntary hurt)
- 147 (rioting),
- 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons) and 149 (unlawful assembly).
Also, Section 223 (a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, states that “persons accused of the same offence committed in the course same transaction can be tried together.”
SUPREME COURT’S STAND
In order to tackle this grave issue of mob lynching, Supreme Court in Tehseen S.Poonawalla v. Union of India and Ors passed three part of guidelines namely preventive, remedial and punitive measures with the intention of reducing or eliminating the crime.
Highlights of the case:
- A report has to be prepared by Special Task Force of the suspected criminals of mob lynching and the people spreading rumours.
- Under Section 129 of the Criminal Procedure Code. A police officer appointed in the district has the power to disperse the mob if the mob is suspected of commiting an offence.
- Once the decision is in favour of convict, the state government has to prepare a compensation plan for victims of mob lynching and his family and the compensation has to be made within 1 month of the decision
- The mob lynching cases must undergo trial in the fast-track court of respective district for speedy disposal of cases.
- The Court has recommended the Parliament to come up with a law against mob lynching. However, the central government is against making a separate law on mob lynching.
- Social media has become a new serial killer. It is the rumours on the social media platforms that are creating a havoc. People without checking the exact fact gets involved in the rumours. In most of the cases rumours are the cause of attacks
- Delay in the arrival of the police leads to aggravation of the situation, as witnessed in the case of Palghar. Many-a-times police are attacked and not allowed to solve the matter. Effective deployment of police is must in sensitive areas.
- Severity of cow vigilante violence has been described as “unprecedented” Cow vigilante violence in India is on rise. Even the licensed traders are getting lynched.
- People are losing their faith in law. In India almost every case last for 10 years. People belives in quick justice. They have started believing in the Principal,”Justice delayed justice denied” and to get quick justice, they are taking laws in their hand.
- Lynching may reflect internal tensions between ethnic community. Killing of minority community, caste based killing is pointing towards the zero tolerance and no patience level within people.
It can be seen that an insecurity has increased among the people due to increased cases of mob lynching. The faith of the people in justice delivery system has to be brought in, only then it is possible to reduce mob lynching cases. It is the duty of the state to protect the Fundamental Rights of its citizens. Mob Lynching based on the identity discriminates against the whole community and violates Article 14 and Article 15 of Indian Constitution. Considering the gravity of the matter government must come up with anti mob lynching law. We need to stop getting involved in rumours to curtail this issue and to protect ourselves from not being “the next victim.”
Author: Bhargavi Nimje from Firodia Law College, Pune.