Centre constitutes high-level committees to deal with mob violence, lynching

Two high-level committees have been constituted by the Central government to suggest ways and legal framework to effectively deal with incidents of mob violence and lynching, the Home Ministry.

One of the committees is being headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the other by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba.

The move comes after a number of mob lynching incidents were reported in several areas, stemming from fake social media rumors of child kidnappers as well as cow vigilantism.

The Union Government is highly concerned about the incidents of mob violence in some parts of the country. The government has already condemned such incidents and made its stand clear in the Parliament that, as per the Constitutional scheme, ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects.

State Governments are responsible for controlling crime, maintaining law and order, and protecting the life and property of the citizens. They are empowered to enact and enforce laws to curb crime in their jurisdiction.

Condemning mob lynching incidents across the country and the Supreme Court had urged the Parliament to enact a new law to deal with the crime. The court passed a slew of directions in this regard to dealing with the mob lynching. Here are the directions:

There shall be a “separate offense” for lynching and the trial courts must ordinarily award maximum sentence upon conviction of the accused person to set a stern example in cases of mob violence.

The state governments will have to designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.

The state governments need to identify districts, sub-divisions, and villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past.

The nodal officers shall bring to the notice of the DGP about any inter-district co-ordination issues for devising a strategy to tackle lynching and mob violence related issues.

Every police officer shall ensure to disperse the mob that has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise.

Central and the state governments shall broadcast on radio, television and other media platforms about the serious consequences of mob lynching and mob violence.

Despite the measures taken by the State Police, if it comes to the notice of the local police that an incident of lynching or mob violence has taken place, the jurisdictional police station shall immediately lodge an FIR.

The State Governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme in the light of the provisions of Section 357A of CrPC within one month from the date of this judgment.

If a police officer or an officer of the district administration fails to fulfill his duty, it will be considered an act of deliberate negligence.

At present, there is no law that criminalizes mob killings. The Indian Penal Code has provisions for unlawful assembly, rioting, and murder but nothing that takes cognizance 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 offense committed in the course of the “same transaction”. But the provision falls far short of an adequate legal framework for prosecuting lynch mobs.

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