The Mob lynching in India has become common in the recent time. Lynching in easy words refers to the death of someone by a mob without any legal approval. Mob lynching has yet not been mentioned under the Indian Legal System thereof there is no specific law or punishment prescribed for lynching. Punishment for the same depends upon the facts of the case. Section 223(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 – provides that the mob involved in same offence in the same act can be tried together. Whereas, Indian Penal Code, 1860 also has some provisions which the people involved in mob lynching are punishable like that of Section 302 (punishment for murder), Section 307 (attempt to murder), Section 323 (punishment for causing hurt), Section 325 (punishment for causing grievous hurt) and many more are applied because of which the crime is seen as an offence against an individual and not against the community as a whole.
Reason as to why these provisions are relied upon is because attacks related to mob lynching often include attacks by vigilantes, murder and an attempt to murder, harassment, assault, gang – rape and many more. Victims of mob lynching are treated miserably; they are beaten up, chained and hanged.
NEED OF CHANGE
The Rule of Law is the backbone of Indian Democracy. Article 21 of the Constitution of India deals with protection of life and personal liberty. It states that – No person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. Every person in India including the Government are required to follow the Rule of Law.
The preamble of the Constitution of India also provides for “the government of people, by the people and for the people”, and it further expects prevalence of genuine orderliness, positive propriety, dedicated discipline and sanguine sanctity by constant confirmation of constitutional morality. The success and failure of democracy depends largely on the extent to which civil liberties are enjoyed by the citizens of the country in general. It is the duty of law to protect every member of the society from his fellow members and to prevent their rights and liberties from being encroached upon. Communal harmony is also one of the important aspects of every democracy and our constitution specifically refers to secularism.
Our country is governed by the Rule of Law. According to which, no person can be punished without the authority of law. Any person who commits a crime can be punished through procedure established by law. Despite all these safeguards available to the Citizens of India, there has been a constant increase in the incidents of mob lynching. Merely, on the basis of suspicion, the mob takes the law into their hands and imparts so called “justice” by lynching him.
Role of the Honorable Supreme Court of India
- In the case of Tehseen S. poonawalla v. Union of India & Others, Hon`ble Apex Court dealing with this issue, has directed the Centre as well as the States to take preventive, punitive and remedial measures to stop lynching incidents in the future and had issued detailed guidelines pertaining to the same. The Supreme Court has minced just no words to hold unequivocally that the State has to act positively and responsibly to safeguard and secure the constitutional promises to its citizens. Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees the right to life and personal liberty to all the citizens of our nation and no mob can be allowed under any circumstances to hold it to ransom.
- Hon`ble court in Kodungallur Film Society & Another v. Union of India, dealing with the guidelines/recommendations in destruction of public and private properties has also considered the aspect of mob violence. The Hon’ble Apex Court has held as follows – “At this stage, it would be apposite to also consider the judgment rendered by a three-Judge bench of the Supreme Court in Tehseen S. Poonawalla v. Union of India where the Supreme Court had to deal with a specific type of mob violence and the resulting restraints on personal liberty and free speech. Taking note of burgeoning instances of vigilantism and lynching, the Supreme Court propounded that the States had the duty to ensure that individuals or groups did not take the law into their own hands to prevent untoward incidents and to prevent crime which may include damage caused to property. The recommendations comprehensively set out the manner in which the State and law-enforcement agencies are expected to deal with the menace of mob violence specifically lynching and vigilantism and further, assign responsibility and accountability to officials to curb such incidents as also punitive measures to deter law enforcement agencies from shirking their duties.”
- In the case of Nandini Sundar & Others v. State of Chhattisgarh Court had stated that it is the duty of the States, as to strive, incessantly and consistently, to promote fraternity among all citizens so that the dignity of every citizen is protected, nourished and promoted. Court held that to prevent such incidents is the responsibility of the States.
- In Mohd Haroon and others v. Union of India and another, case it is held that it is the responsibility of the State Administration in association with the intelligence agencies of both the State as well as the Center to prevent recurrence of communal violence in any part of the State. If any officer responsible for maintaining law and order is found negligent, he/she should be brought within the ambit of law.
- In Stephen’s College v. University of Delhi, while emphasizing on the significance of Unity in Diversity, the Court has observed that the object of our Constitution is unity in diversity and to impede any fissiparous tendencies for enriching the unity among Indians by assimilating the diversities. The meaning of diversity in its connotative expanse of the term would include geographical, religious, linguistic, racial and cultural differences. It is absolutely necessary to underscore that India represents social, religious and cultural diversity.
It has been found that in the cases of mob lynching; most of the victims are male, female and even children, poor, of a low caste and minority community. This is very apparent that these are the crimes which are against the marginalized community of the society. The situation prevailing in India demands a special law on the violence of Mob Lynching.
 7TH Report of VII State Law Commission on Mob Lynching, Uttar Pradesh Combating of Mob Lynching Bill, 2019.
 Tehseen S. Poonawalla v. Union of India & Others, (2018) 9 SCC 501.
 Kodungallur Film Society & Another v. Union of India & others, (2018) 10 SCC 713.
 Tehseen S. Poonawalla v. Union of India & Others, (2018) 9 SCC 501.
 Nandini Sundar & Others v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2011) 7 SCC 547.
 Mohd Haroon & Others v. Union of India & Another, (2014) 5 SCC 252.
 St. Stephen`s College v. University of Delhi, (1992) 1 SCC 558.
Author: PRANJALI PANDYA,
Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhaptnam,