Insights into Editorial: Showing the way: on Manipur’s new anti-lynching law
Pluralism and tolerance are essential virtues and constitute the building blocks of a truly free and democratic society. Intolerance arising out of a dogmatic mindset sows the seeds of upheaval.
The groundswell of public disgust at the lynching’s crystallised under the banner of the National Campaign Against Mob Lynching (NCAML), which has initiated a campaign for a law against mob lynching.
Also known as ‘Masuka’, short for Manav Suraksha Kanoon (law to protect humans), a draft of the proposed legislation is currently up on the Internet, awaiting suggestions from the public.
The primary argument of the activists and lawyers advocating an anti-lynching law is that it fills a void in our criminal jurisprudence. It is true that 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).
What is meant by Lynching?
Any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting (encouraging) such act/acts thereof, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds.
It excluded solitary hate crimes and for the provisions to apply, it requires that these hate crimes are undertaken by the mobs, defined as a group of two or more individuals, assembled with a common intention of lynching.
Today, the Hate Crimes attract Section 153 A of IPC. It is related to fostering enmity between the people on the basis of religion, race, language etc.
But, registering this crime requires prior permission of the State Government. Most State Governments use this power to shield perpetrators, who are politically and ideologically connected to the ruling establishment.
Six months have passed since the Supreme Court anguished by “horrific acts of mobocracy” issued several directions to the Union and the State Governments to protect India’s “Pluralistic Social Fabric”.
Now, Manipur became the first to pass a law against lynching. Supreme Court gave suggestions for creating a nodal officer to control such crimes in every State, special courts and enhanced punishments.
Recently, Supreme Court says no mobocracy, need anti-lynching law:
To end mob lynching, Supreme Court gives an 11-point prescription:
A slew of directions, including preventive, remedial and punitive steps, the top court gave to deal with the crime:
- The state governments shall designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
- The state governments shall immediately 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 any inter-district co-ordination issues for devising a strategy to tackle lynching and mob violence related issues.
- It shall be the duty of every police officer to cause a mob to disperse, which, in his opinion, has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise.
- Central and the state governments should broadcast on radio and television and other media platforms including the official websites that lynching and mob violence shall invite serious consequence.
- Curb and stop dissemination of irresponsible and explosive messages, videos and other material on various social media platforms. Register FIR under relevant provisions of law against persons who disseminate such messages.
- Ensure that there is no further harassment of the family members of the victims.
- State governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme.
- Cases of lynching and mob violence shall be specifically tried by designated court/fast track courts earmarked for that purpose in each district. The trial shall preferably be concluded within six months.
- To set a stern example in cases of mob violence and lynching, the trial court must ordinarily award maximum sentence upon conviction of the accused person.
- If it is found that a police officer or an officer of the district administration has failed to fulfill his duty, it will be considered as an act of deliberate negligence.
The court said a country where the rule of law prevails does not allow any such thought. It, in fact, commands for ostracization of such thoughts with immediacy.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not maintain specific data with respect to lynching incidents in the country.
‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India.
The responsibility to maintain law and order and protect life and property, therefore, rests with the respective State Governments. The State Governments are competent to deal with such offences under the extant provisions of laws.
Manipur Government became the first in the country to hold public officials criminally accountable, if they fail to prevent hate crimes.
Manipur’s Anti-Lynching law laid down the duty and responsibility of the State Government to make arrangements for the protection of victims and witnesses against any kind of intimidation, coercion, inducement, violence etc.
It prescribes the duty of the State officials to prevent a hostile environment against people of the community, who have been lynched.
Sometimes, it may include economic and social boycott and humiliation through excluding them from public services such as education, health and other services.