Lynching Incidents

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 23 Jul 2018 12:11:02










The Parliament should enact special law against lynching providing adequate punishment for the same, with a view to instill a sense of fear for law amongst the people who involve themselves in such kinds of activities, the court recommends.

IN THE landmark judgement of the case- Tehseen S. Poonawala v. Union of India and Others, delivered on July 17, 2018, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud has considered it appropriate to recommend to the Parliament that incidents of lynching be dealt with as a special and separate offence and to enact a separate law to punish the offenders participating in lynching of persons.
Besides Poonawalla, Tushar Gandhi - great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and a few others had filed a string of writ petitions in the light of the rising instances of cow vigilantism.

The court has condemned lynching incidents across the country. The horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be allowed to become a new norm in the country. “Such acts cannot be permitted to inundate the law of the land. Earnest action and concrete steps have to be taken to protect the citizens from the recurring pattern of violence which cannot be allowed to become “the new normal”.The State cannot turn a deaf ear to the growing rumblings of its people, since its concern, to quote Woodrow Wilson, “must ring with the voices of the people.” “The exigencies of the situation require us to sound a clarion call for earnest action to strengthen our inclusive and all –embracing social order which would, in turn, reaffirm the constitutional faith. The court expects nothing more and nothing less.”

It is the duty of the State to ensure that the machinery of law and order functions efficiently and effectively in maintaining peace so as to preserve our quintessentially secular ethos and pluralistic social fabric in a democratic set-up governed by rule of law.“In times of chaos and anarchy, the State has to act positively and responsibly to safeguard and secure the constitutional promises to its citizens.”The majesty of law cannot be sullied simply because an individual or a group generate the attitude that they have been empowered by the principles set out in law to take the enforcement into their own hands and gradually become law unto themselves and punish the violator on their own assumption and in the manner in which they deem fit.

“They forget that the administration of law is conferred on the law enforcing agencies and no one is allowed to take law into his own hands on the fancy of his “shallow spirit of judgement”. Just as one is entitled to fight for his rights in law, the other is entitled to be treated as innocent till he is found guilty after a fair trial. No act of a citizen to be adjudged by any kind of community under the guise of protectors of law. It is the seminal requirement of law that an accused is booked under law and is dealt with in accordance with the procedure without any obstruction so that substantive justice is done. The court has categorically held that no individual in his own capacity or as a part of a group, which within no time assumes character of a mob, can take law into his/their hands and deal with a person treating him as guilty.

“That is not only contrary to the paradigm of established legal principles in our legal system But also inconceivable in a civilised society that respects the fundamental tenets of the rule of law. And, needless to say, such ideas and conceptions not only create a dent in the majesty of law but are also absolutely obnoxious.”The apex court has held that there can be no shadow of doubt that the authorities which are conferred with the responsibility to maintain law and order in the States have the principal obligation to see that vigilantism, be it cow vigilantism or any other vigilantism of any perception, does not take place.“When any core group with some kind of idea to take the law into their own hands, it ushers in anarchy, chaos, disorder and, eventually, there is an emergence of a violent society. Vigilantism cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be given room to take shape, for it is absolutely a perverse notion.

We may note here that certain applications for intervention and written notes have been filed in this regard supporting the same on the basis that there is cattle smuggling and cruel treatment to animals. In this context, suffice it to say that it is the law enforcing agencies which have to survey, prevent and prosecute”.“No one has the authority to enter into the said field and harbour the feeling that he is the law and punisher himself. A country where the rule of law prevails does not allow any such thought. It, in fact, commands for ostracisation of such thoughts with immediacy.”

Broadening the scope of the issue, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) had observed: “The concept of vigilantism is not about any particular incident or is about mob violence... Members of any concerned group cannot take law into their hands... even if there is no law, they are nobody...”“We can deal with this under Article 142... we have developed the concept in Shakti Vahini (honour killings)... Compensation and monitoring of investigation are aspects that have to be looked into….also, what would be the point of a judgement without any preventive measure.”The court has passed the judgement, “keeping the contempt alive…these kindds of instances cannot occur... it is the obligation of the States to prevent the same... hence an elaborate judgement was needed”.The court has directed the Centre and States to take preventive, punitive and remedial measures to stop incidents of lynching in future.

It has issued detailed guidelines regarding the same.The court expects compliance and implementation of these measures in 4 weeks by the Central and the State Governments and also directed that compliance reports be filed with the court’s registry within the same period.
The court has recommended to the Parliament to enact special law against lynching providing adequate punishment for the same, with a view to instill a sense of fear for law amongst the people who involve themselves in such kinds of activities. There can be no trace of doubt that fear of law and veneration for the command of law constitute the foundation of a civilised society.