This article is based on the problem of mob lynching in India and what are the existing legal system on this issue, it further deals with the supreme court ruling and governmental steps on this problem and also gives a way forward to deal with this issue.
“The Supreme Court on July 28 asked the Centre and at least six States to respond to a plea about lynchings and mob violence refusing to stop. the plea said gruesome incidents of mob fury and vigilantism continue to happen despite a five-year-old apex court judgment, which had made the government machinery squarely accountable for protecting the lives of victims, including minority community members.”
The term “mob lynching” describes targeted violence committed by a sizable crowd, including crimes against people’s bodies or property, whether public or private. The mob takes the law into their own hands while disregarding legal guidelines and processes because they feel they are punishing the victim for some perceived violation, even if it is not necessarily criminal. The values of justice, human rights, and the rule of law are all transgressed by the horrific and unlawful act of mob lynching. It is a sort of vigilantism that violates the fundamental principles of a civilised society, according to which everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty and the judicial system should be in charge of delivering justice. Mob lynching instances have happened all throughout the world, and they are frequently motivated by ingrained societal problems, discrimination, and a lack of faith in the legal system. These actions not only cause fatalities but also spread fear and instability throughout communities.
Mark Twain, in an unpublished response to a racial lynching in Missouri in 1901, provided a poignant warning about the perils of mob violence. He foresaw the potential transformation of America into “The United States of Lyncherdom” Fast forward more than a century later, the secular republic of India finds itself grappling with a similar apprehension. The specter of mob violence looms over the nation, posing significant risks to its social fabric and values.
The rise of problem of mob lynching or mob violence is due to the various reasons as –
Factors contributing to the rise of mob lynching can be summarized as follows:
- Prejudice: Hate crimes that result from biases and prejudices among various castes, classes, and religious groups drive mob lynching. These prejudices foster a hostile climate that encourages violent acts against certain people or communities.
- Lack of Speedy Justice: One of the main causes of mob violence is the delayed and ineffective operation of the legal system. People may take matters into their own hands and seek immediate retaliation without concern for the repercussions when they lose trust in the judicial system and think that justice will not be delivered quickly.
- Ineffectiveness of Police Administration: Another factor in the growth of mob lynchings is the inefficiency of police investigations and the public’s mistrust of the police. People may turn to vigilante measures to right perceived wrongs when they believe the authorities are either incapable or unwilling to do so.
These elements work together to produce a potentially dangerous climate where mob lynching episodes might happen. Combating biases and prejudices, bolstering the judicial system to ensure quick trials and just verdicts, enhancing the effectiveness and accountability of law enforcement, and fostering a climate of tolerance and respect for the rule of law are all necessary to solve this issue.
But one of the main reasons of increasing cases of mob lynching is because of increase in Cow vigilantism cases, Cows are revered and held in high regard in the Hindu religion. This attitude occasionally gives birth to “cow vigilantism,” in which certain people or organisations utilise the law to defend cows from fictitious dangers. This attitude frequently results in violence against those who are suspected of killing cows or eating animal products. In these situations, the majority commits violence against the minority groups. Along with cow vigilantism there is also increasing instances of religious vigilantism, where extremists from an intolerant religious group targets a person who raises or speaks against their religion.
Most infamous case of cow vigilantism was of Alwar, Rajasthan in the year 2017, when one Pehlu Khan, a 55-yearold Diary-Farmer was lynched in broad daylight by six men on the accusation of cow killing and beef consumption. On April 1, 2017, Khan, his two sons, and a few other people were moving livestock from Jaipur when they were stopped and beaten by cow vigilantes close to Behror in Alwar. And the Alwar court acquitted the six men giving them a benefit of doubt in august 2019 and after an appeal by the sons of the victim, Rajasthan High Court ordered Bailable warrants against the accused and the matter is still pending with no glimpse of justice.
As per a report by IndiaSpend, basing itself on the content analysis of news reports, concludes that “In the first six months of 2017, 20 cow-terror attacks were reported–more than 75 per cent of the 2016 figure, which was the worst year for such violence since 2010. The attacks include mob lynching, attacks by vigilantes, murder and attempt to murder, harassment, assault and gang-rape. In two attacks, the victims/survivors were chained, stripped and beaten, while in two others, the victims were hanged. Another analysis of mob violence and public disorder between January 2011 and June 2017 on Observer Research Analysis, shows that cow-related violence has spiked up dramatically from five per cent of the total incidents (of Lynching or Public Disorder) to over 20 per cent by the end of June 2017.”
Suprisingly the National Crime Record Bureau stopped recording these crimes since 2017, as stating the data as unrealiable.
There are several many cases of mob violence where victims were killed by a mob and family still seeks justice for them.
One of the reasons for this delay is because of absence specific laws on mob lynching but section 223(a) of CrPC which held that –
“persons accused of the same offence committed in the course same transaction;”
The Supreme Court established a number of preventative, corrective, and punitive procedures to deal with lynching and mob violence in the case of Tahseen s. Poonawala v. UOI in July 2017. In this case, the Supreme Court used the phrase “horrendous act of mobocracy” to describe mob lynching and it also insisted various states to take preventive actions on this issue.
But another problem arises of non-implementation as, “On December 22, 2018, the Manipur Assembly passed the Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Bill while the Rajasthan Assembly passed the Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill on August 5, 2019. Similarly, the West Bengal Assembly passed the West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill on August 30, 2019. The Uttar Pradesh law commission submitted a report on mob lynching and a draft bill in July 2019. In the same year, the Madhya Pradesh government led by the then chief minister Kamal Nath had proposed an amendment to the existing law against cow slaughter to deal with the cases of lynching. But there has been no headway in both these states.”
Now what should be the way forward to this, firstly, we need dedicated fast track courts in this matter which can dispose these cases in short time setting precedents and fear in the mind of others who can fulfil their secret vendetta against a person with this act. Secondly, their should be proper victim compensation scheme implemented to support the victim’s family and free treatment should be provided to injured. Lastly, there should be a special task force established in each district to be the first response force to such act and where they can protect the victim thus not causing any casualty.
Lynchings are not appropriate in an Indian democracy. It is critical that mob violence be eliminated in a nation that takes pleasure in being democratic. unsettlingly, the police’s inactivity in times of mob violence is frequently met with popular approval of the officers’ extrajudicial penalties. Consequently, it’s crucial to increase public confidence in legal processes. States like Manipur, West Bengal, and Rajasthan have proposed comprehensive laws on the subject, and all states and the federal government should follow suit. It is necessary to take action to stop the spread of false information and hate speech.
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Written By – Shreyanshu Gupta
 Section 223(a) of CrPC