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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Rajya Sabha MP and Congress Leader Digvijaya Singh has made a plea to the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
  • The plea seeks for the implementation of the Supreme Court’s direction given in cases of communal violence and mob lynching.
  • The Madhya Pradesh High Court has issued a notice to the MP Government.
  • The cases that were referred to include Tehseen Poonawala V. Union of India; Commissioner of Police and Ors. V. Acharya Jagdishwarananda Avadhuta and Ors.; and Arumugam Servai V. State of Tamil Nadu.
  • This article will talk about the issue of communal violence and mob lynching in depth as well as the laws and cases pertaining to the same.

INTRODUCTION

India is a land of many religions and on most occasions, religious harmony can be seen through the unity of the country and mutual respect for all religions. The concept of secularism has been enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution and there is a peaceful coexistence of various religions in India. By way of Fundamental Rights, all citizens have been given the Right to Freedom of Religion. We have also been given Cultural and Educational, where people are free to propagate their religion peacefully. Yet, we have also witnessed some of the worst communal clashes in history. Some of the most infamous ones include the 1984 Anti-sikh riots, 2020 Delhi riots, 2002 Godhra riots, 1989 Kashmir Violence, among others. Mob lynching has become one of the most prevalent forms of communal violence today, where a member of the minority community is at the receiving end of attacks by the majority community upon mere suspicion of doing something prohibited by their religion.

MOB LYNCHING

Mob Lynching is a social phenonmenon whose occurrence has incrased manifold in the last few years. Mob Lynching involve ‘vigilantes’, that is, people who undertake to enforce law without having the legal authority or power to do so. There is no lawful justification that can be provided for the same. In cases of lynching, it is often noticed that a group of people kill a person who is often deemed to be guilty of an offence that is based on religious prejudice. The incidents of mob lynching are most common in States like Delhi, Haryana. Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Rajasthan.

When people take law into their hands without any legal power to do so, it becomes a threat to the Rule of Law and the supremacy of the Constitution. It puts the various minorities of the country at risk of violence and even death. Not only does it lead to majoritarian rule but it also conflicts with the fundamental rights given to us, such as the Right to Life.

IMPORTANT CASES

● TEHSEEN POONAWALA V. UNION OF INDIA [(2018) 9 SCC 501]: In this case the Court had given direction to the State authorities regarding the punitive, remedial and punitive measures to be complied with regarding communal violence, mob lynching and mob violence.

● COMMISSIONER OF POLICE AND ORS. V. ACHARYA JAGDISHWARANANADA AVADHUTA AND ORS. [(2004) 12 SCC 770]: In this case, direction had been given by the Court relating to ensuring that when religious processions and religious rallies are organised, the permission for the same should be according to the directions given by the Apex Court.

● ARUMUGAM SERVAI V. STATE OF TAMIL NADU [(2011) 6 SCC 405]: In the given case, it was held that a departmental enquiry is to be held against negligent officers who had failed to do their duty in case of communal violence.

● NANDINI SUNDAR V. STATE OF CHATTISGARH [W.P. (C) 250/2007]: Held that it was the duty of the state to prevent crime in a state and maintain harmony among the people. The dignity of each citizen had to be protected and promoted.

● MOHD. HAROON AND ORS. V. UNION OF INDIA AND ANR. [W.P. (CRIMINAL) 155/2013]: Held that if any officer was found to be negligent of fulfilling his duty of maintaining law and order, he shall be punished in accordance with the law.

● ARCHBISHOP RAPHAEL CHEENATH S.V.D. V. STATE OF ORISSA AND ANR. [W.P. (C) 404/2008]: Held that the Government had to inquire into the causes of the communal violence and riots and strengthen police infrastructure.

LEGAL ASPECT

There is a lack of codified laws on mob lynching, however, this does not mean that there is no legal recourse available to the victims of mob and communal violence. In the Tehseen Poonawalla case, the former Chief Justice, Deepak Misra, had laid guidelines for the Parliament to legislate a new law on that would make mob lynching a punishable offence.

Certain measures are also to be taken to control communal violence. Some of these are as follows:

  • The State Governments and the Central Government have to make it known to the general public that mob lynching is a punishable offence as per the Indian Penal Code.
  • Life imprisonment could be awarded for the same.
  • The cases that deal with mob lynching have to be referred to fast track courts to impart speedier justice to the victims of mob attacks.
  • To set a precedent for the severity of the crime of lynching, maximum punishment should be given to the convicts.
  • In case a Police authority fails to comply with the procedures, a case of negligence and disobedience can be failed against him for the same.
  • After the case is settled, a compensation plan for the victims of such violence is to be framed by the State Government which is to be made available to them within a month.
  • In case there is a crowd of people and it is likely that lynching can take place, it becomes the duty of the Police to disperse such a crowd.

PUNISHMENTS

There are no codified laws made for dealing with mob lynching specifically however the following legal provisions are used to prosecute a person who is guilty of the same. These are mentioned below:

  • Section 302 of the IPC: Whoever commits the crime of murder is given imprisonment for life or death penalty.
  • Section 304 of the IPC: Whoever commits culpable homicide not amounting to murder can be punished with life inprisonment or 10 years of imprisonment along with the payment of a fine.
  • Section 325 of the IPC: Whoever causes grievous hurt to a person voluntarily can be given an imprisonment term upto 7 years along with payment of a fine.
  • Section 34 of the IPC: Whoever commits an act in furtherance of common intention is liable for it as if it had been done by him alone.

CONCLUSION

As we have seen, there is a lack of codified statutes about mob lynching. There is no specific and distinct law that deals with the same and this has provided leeway to those who take law into their own hands. Mob lynching cannot be justified under any circumstances and its increasing occurrence in a society is a threat to ll those living in it. Stricter measures have to be developed to tackle this social evil and harsher punishments should be given to those engaging in it. The concept of moral righteousness of one religion of another needs to be abolished.


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