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MOB LYNCHING AND BREAKDOWN OF RULE OF LAW

BY Ms. Lekha Sri. K. S


1.INTRODUCTION

Mob lynching refers to the acts of violence done by a large group of people where they surmise that they are punishing the alleged accused for what they believe to be wrong without in accordance with the rule of law. It is a preplanned extrajudicial killing. The mob acts on the belief that it is doing what has to be done and it will not be held guilty for its misdemeanor. These beliefs subsume an assumption that the judiciary is incompetent and incapable.

The concept of lynching is a relatively old phenomenon which can be seen around the world all the time. The term ‘lynch’ was derived from the name Charles Lynch (1736-96) a Virginia planter, who during the American Revolution headed an irregular court to punish loyalists.


2.MOB LYNCHING IN INDIA

From the year 2015 there has been an increase in the number of mob lynching cases in India. It has become par for the course and is obstructing the fabric of our country.

The reasons for lynching in India has been rape, murder, witch hunt and even for a few petty crimes like theft. Recently there has been increase in mob lynching by the cow vigilants or “gaurakshas”. The Dadri lynching of 2015 caught the eyes of the media where a 52 year old was murdered brutally on the streets for consuming beef which was later proved to be mutton and not beef. In 2016 in the state of Jarkhanda mob assaulted two people who were taking their cattles to a fair and hanged them from a tree. On April 2020 a mob 400 people attacked two sadhus whom they mob thought to be child lifters. Research says that in order to commit such crimes they need suitable environment and a belief system to overcome the inhibition in conducting such crimes. The required environment is created when they presume that they have the authority to take law in their hands.


3.INDIAN LAWS ON MOB LYNCHING

The concept of mob lynching directly violates Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. Though there are provisions for murder, culpable homicide, rioting in IPC there is no specific provision for mob lynching. We have section 223(a) of Criminal procedure code where two or more persons can be punished for committing the same offence under the same transaction. The National Campaign against mob lynching drafted a lynching Act 2017.

In ArumugamServai v. State of Tamil Nadu[i] the Supreme Court had directed States to take disciplinary action against the concerned officials wherever they did not prevent the incident, despite having prior knowledge of it. In July 2017 the Supreme Court, in Tahseens Poonawala v. Union of India[ii] gave various preventive measures, remedies and punitive measures relating to mob lynching. It directed the states to establish fast track courts in districts to deal with these cases. It also issued directions to establish victim compensation schemes. In 2019 the Supreme Court seeked responses from the Centre and the states as to the steps taken by them to implement the guidelines provided in the judgment. Until now only three states namely, West Bengal, Rajastan and Manipur have implemented laws regarding mob lynching.

A high level committee headed by the Home minister Rajiv Gauba was constituted to send a report to the prime minister based on the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court. Till now mob lynching remains to be the crime which is resistant to the justice system and the law enforcement authorities. The mere enactment of laws cannot curb the gruesome cats of mob lynching. Without proper implementation the laws we may not be able to curb such “horrendous acts of mobocracy”.


4.MOB LYNCHING AND BREAKDOWN OF RULE OF LAW

Rule of law is the foundation on which the modern democratic society lies. In the modern era the concept of Dicey’s rule of law has evolved to have a much wider sense. “The rule of law implies that the functions of the government in a free society should be so exercised as to create conditions in which the dignity of man as an individual is upheld. This dignity requires not only the recognition of certain civil or political rights but also creation of certain political, social, economic, educational and cultural conditions which are essential to the full development of his personality”[iii]. In mob lynching the victims are usually the minority groups. It directly violates ones right to live with dignity and right to fair trial. These incidents of lynching directly point to the people’s lack of faith in rule of law.

In the words of former Chief Justice T.S Thakur:

"Mob lynching is a complete failure of rule of law. If a mob can take law into its hands and administer sundry justice, what kind of rule of law is that? If somebody has committed an offence, the law requires him to be prosecuted. Even Kasab, a murderer who came to kill innocent people, got a fair trial. He got a trial right up to the Supreme Court. His mercy petition was considered. You all know that the apex court sat at midnight to examine whether there was any injustice in his trial. Because we believe in rule of law. He could have been left to be lynched in the streets of Mumbai by a mob but it would be the negation of rule of law. If that had happened, our heads would have hanged in shame before civilized countries"

Mob lynching is a sacrilege of rule of law. It is a smear on our judiciary. It stems from the recalcitrant notion of an individual or a group where he has lost faith in our justice system and decides to take law in his own hands and decides to punish the person who in their opinion is an offender. This act besmirches the concept of rule of law.


STEPS TO BE TAKEN

The guidelines which were laid down in the 2018 judgment should be properly followed. The MASUKA (ManavSurakshaKanoon) proposed by the National Campaign against Mob Lynching should be properly enacted. There must be maintenance of proper data relating to mob lynching.


5.CONCLUSION

Activity of mob lynching defames our country. Even a news article was published under the title “Hindustan turning into Lynchistan”. The rise in incidents of mob lynching indicates a systematic crisis and also peoples loss of belief in the justice system. It threatens the social and economic framework of our country. The issue of mob lynching should be taken seriously and controlled effectively to uphold the collapsing rule of law and democracy.

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