Anti Lynching Bills

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    In Context 

    • Bills passed against mob lynching by four states have not been implemented with the Union government taking a view that lynching is not defined as a crime under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

    Examination of Ministry of Home Affairs

    • The Ministry examines the State legislations on three grounds—repugnancy with Central laws, deviation from national or central policy and legal and constitutional validity.
      • In 2018, the Supreme Court asked Parliament to make lynching a separate offence.
      • The Union Home Ministry informed Parliament in 2019 that there was “no separate” definition for lynching under the IPC, adding that lynching incidents could be dealt with under Sections 300 and 302 of the IPC, pertaining to murder.
      • In 2019, the MHA informed the Lok Sabha that it had received the bills passed by the State legislatures of Manipur and Rajasthan that have been reserved by the Governor for consideration of the President.
        • The President has to go with the advice given by the Council of Ministers, in the case of such legislation, represented by the MHA.
      • Union Home Minister had informed Parliament that the government has decided to overhaul the IPC framed in 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and mob-lynching would also be examined by the committee. 
        • The suggestions received by the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws would be examined by the Ministry before the changes are adopted.

    Image Courtesy: TH

    What is Mob Lynching?

    • About:
      • It is a form of violence in which a mob, under the pretext of administering justice without trial, punishes and inflicts torture on a presumed offender, sometimes even resulting in murders.
    • Origin: 
      • The word lynching in fact originated in the United States in the mid-18th century. 
        • Historians believe that the term was first used by planter Charles Lynch to describe extra-judicial authority assumed by private individuals like him.
      • It came to be applied over time to extra-judicial killings by crowds, most commonly of African-Americans in the late 19th century.
    • Causes:
    • Most lynchings have occurred in remote areas, on highways, or in the countryside. 
      • The network of law and order is generally lax in these areas and even a set of enthusiastic police personnel might not reach the location on time to prevent violence.
    • Smartphones and cheap internet have become a common phenomenon only after 2010. 
    •  Lynchings are often fuelled by rumours spread on social media platforms.
    • The lynching of Muslims, especially on the pretext of “saving cattle” has apparently been on the rise in recent years. 
    • There have been dozens of such killings in the last few years.
    • A combined effect of political, socio-economic, and psychological factors have led to a situation of hyper-reactivity among large populations even in rural areas and small towns
    • Impacts: 
    • The spate of incidents of lynching over the past few years has led to a heightened sense of insecurity among the marginalised communities.

    Supreme Court’s Ruling:

    • In 2018, the Supreme Court described lynching as a “horrendous act of mobocracy”. 
      • The Court exhorted the Centre and State governments to frame laws specifically to deal with the crime of lynching and laid down certain guidelines to be incorporated in these laws including fast-track trials, compensation to victims, and disciplinary action against lax law-enforcers.

    Government initiatives to deal with this:

    • Creation of Nodal Officers: Central government has asked states to appoint a nodal officer in each district to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
      • As per advisory from the Home Ministry, the nodal officer should be a superintendent of policy-level officers.
      • It has also asked to set up a special task force to procure intelligence reports about the people who are likely to commit such crimes or who are involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news.
    • Creation of Two High-level Committees: Two high-level committees were constituted by the Central government to suggest ways and legal framework to effectively deal with incidents of mob violence and lynching.
    • Awareness 
      • The government through audio-visual media has also generated public awareness to curb the menace of mob lynching. 
        • The government has also sensitized the service providers to take steps to check the propagation of false news and rumours having the potential to incite mob violence and lynching.

    Way Forward 

    • Mob violence indeed defames the country and there must be stringent intervention by the police to bring an end to this.
    •  The political leadership also has a role to play in questioning the social consent that allows mob violence.
    • While framing the laws, the Centre could even provide for punitive action against political leaders found guilty of inciting mobs
      • Until a zero-tolerance attitude is adopted in dealing with mob lynching, this crime will continue to show a rising trend. 
    • Punitive action to be taken against police officers accused of dereliction of duty.
    • People have to understand that their act of providing ‘instant justice’ is nothing but in itself a serious crime. 
      • And a crime cannot be countered by another.

    Source: TH