Supreme Court Takes Central Government to Task on MOB Lynching
Neither there is Fear of Law Nor Rule of Law
Prof. Aswin Kumar Karia, Secretary, Society for Fast Justice – Palanpur, Gujarat.
Supreme Court’s directions to all governments to take steps to prevent, what is described as “horrendous act of mobocracy” are welcome. Supreme Court ruling has forced the Centre to acknowledge the gravity of the recurrent crime of mob violence. It has constituted two high level committees to frame measures to deal with what the Supreme Court described as “horrendous acts of mobocracy” will panel led by Home Secretary Mr. Rajiv Gauba will submit its report to a group of ministers headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. That group will submit report which will be a part of the process that leads to the framing of a law on lynching.
The apex court’s ruling contains several guidelines directed towards law enforcement agencies. It has called for
- More efficient patrolling on highways.
- The appointment of senior police officers in sensitive areas
- Immediate registration of FIRs.
- Making a special law on lynching.
These directions reflect the state of absence of Rule of law or lawlessness. It is true that lynching is not officially a crime in our country. But, if the state administrations chose to clamp down the Indian Penal Code punishes all the criminalities perpetrated by lynch mobs. Section 223 (a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure also enables a group of people involved in the same crime to be tried together. In reality, it is collective hate crime. Lynching may be sparked variously by disputes over allegations of cow slaughter or child kidnapping. Whatever the apparent cause may be, mobs lynch gather to lynch people of hated identities with cruelty.
86% of persons killed in cow related dispute were Muslim and 8% Dalit. The recent spate of mob killings in rumours as Child Kidnapping, target strangers and mentally challenged persons. What the ruling fails to acknowledge is that these hate crimes flourish most of all because of the enabling hate speech and violence. Senior ministers and some Member of Parliament come out in open defense of the attackers. It gives a clear message that not the lynch mob, but the victim and the community to which he belongs are guilty. In one case, the body of the offender who died in prison was wrapped in our National flag. A senior minister visited persons in prison and conveyed his sorrows for their suffering. It is noteworthy that in every case, in which ministers and senior leaders of the BJP honour lynch mob killers, the victims are always Muslim. In short, the current phenomenon can be described as communal hate crime. These crimes are targeted against minorities or disadvantaged castes. They are indirectly encouraged by senior leaders of the political establishment.
In most cases, policemen come too late to save lives. Very often, crimes are registered against the victims. Those who are killed are described as cow smugglers and those who are survived have several crimes registered against them. Question comes in our mind, is this rule of law in the largest democracy of the world?
To back offenders of hate crime is not a punishable crime in India. At best, it can be described as a moral failure. If our Parliament is going to enact a law in this issue, it should create a crime of dereliction of duty and communal partisanship by public officials and statesmen. This ruling of the Apex Court has not gone into the problems of under-resourced and politically controlled police force. But this is the time to recall our Apex Court’s decade back ruling in Prakash Singh case. It directed the introduction of reforms in the police force to make it more answerable to the people. The fact that India has one of the lowest police to people ration in the word, has fostered the climate of impunity for vigilante groups.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued detailed directions to the Centre and state governments on controlling incidents of mob-lynching, and asked that a law be created against lynching. In its 45-page judgment, the three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra spent three dozen pages illuminating us on the undesirability of vigilantism; that lynching incidents were on the rise because the rule of law had failed in our country; and that we had lost sight of the idea of "unity in diversity" (in specific response to cow vigilantism). The meat of the judgement lay in the last 8-9 pages or so, containing specific directions on preventive, remedial and punitive measures that governments should take up to tackle such incidents.