THE MAD MAD MOB: NEED FOR A NEW LEGISLATION
Updated: Jun 16
Written By: Shreya Rawat, Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, Uttrakhand
On 16th April 2020, three men were lynched by a mob in Maharashtra’s Palghar district as the mob suspected them to be child-kidnappers and organ harvesters. The mob consisted of more than a hundred people. They beat them to death with sticks and rods. One of the deceased was seventy years old sadhu (ascetic).
This horrible incident shook the country and got nationwide condemnation. But this was not the first time that the country saw such heinous act. In the recent years, this unfortunately has become common news.
SOME INCIDENTS IN PAST
Dadri mob lynching (2015) – A 52 year old man, Mohammed Akhlaq beaten to death on the suspicion of consuming beef. The mob entered his house and attacked with sticks, bricks and knives. He got killed and his son was also injured badly.
Alwar Lynching (2017) – A dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was beaten to death by a mob on the suspicion of taking cows to slaughter. He was actually taking them for milking purpose.
Bulandshahar UP cop lynching (2018)- A cop while doing his duty was killed by a mob when he was trying to handle a clash.
Kerala tribal man lynching (2018)- In Pallakad, Kerala, a tribal youth was killed by locals on suspicion of theft of rice.
WHAT TRIGGERS THIS HATE CRIME?
It can be noticed that most of these killings took place on the basis of mere suspicion. The murderers were not sure of the commitment of the crime. And even if they would have been sure, were they supposed to take law in hands? If the mob is to decide the fate of accused /suspect, what is the need of courts then?
This horrifying trend is a threat to civilization. It shows the intolerance and mindless violence of people today. They do not hesitate to kill a person brutally. They use physical power, sticks, rods and even dangerous weapons to beat up a person without thinking how it would feel to get those upon themselves. There is no sensitivity left. No humanity alive in them.
The list of accused given by police in Palghar lynching case shows the average age 20-30.Similar observations can be made in the other lynching cases also. This is a chunk of violent youth that is dangerous to the society. As the renowned Hindi writer Harishankar Prasad writes in his book ‘Awara Bheed ke Khatre’, “An aimless, frustrate, jobless crowd is dangerous. It becomes most prone to be part of any organization that teaches hate. Then this crowd can be made to indulge in all kinds of destructive acts.”
AFTERMATH OF LYNCHING
When a person is lynched, his whole family is destroyed. Not only he himself gets destroyed but his whole family suffers. There is emotional and psychological trauma. In various interviews the families of victims describe how painful it was for them and some families have come to streets. The helplessness and lack of action has given more courage to the wrong doers and the cases are rising at great pace.
MASUKA (MANAV SURAKSHA KANOON):
In July 2017, National Campaign against mob lynching came up with an anti mob lynching bill called MASUKA, which was basically a draft proposal of legislation against the crime.
The lawyer Shehzad Poonawala , who presented it said that a special law is needed just like Domestic Violence act or SC ST atrocities Act, as the provisions in Indian Penal Code are not as comprehensive. The proposal was well drafted as it ensured the accountability of police officers as well as the District Magistrate. It also had compensation and rehabilitation provisions.
SUPREME COURT GUIDELINES :
In July 2018, activist Tehseen Poonawala filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court seeking directions against the crime. The Apex court condemned the practice of mob violence and issued some guidelines, which are both preventive and remedial in nature. Some key ones are:
In ever district, a senior police officer to be designated as Nodal officer (NO).
Nodal officer to procure reports on people who are likely to commit such a crime or are involved in hate speeches.
Identify the places with instances of such crime.
Regular meetings to be held by the Nodal officer.
Nodal officer to take steps to prohibit dissemination of offensive material on social media.
Police to lodge FIR without delay, investigation to be done properly.
Nodal officer to ensure victim family free from harassment.
Police officer and District magistrate to face departmental action on failure of duties.
Strict punishment to the lynchers.
State government to prepare Victim Compensation scheme.
STATES THAT CAME FORWARD:
Till now only two states Manipur and Rajasthan have come up with anti mob lynching bill. Manipur was the first one to produce such a bill called ‘The Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Bill, 2018’. The bill makes strict rules for public officials and does not give them any exemption from punishment. Rajasthan walked on the same path. ‘Rajasthan Protection from lynching Bill, 2019’ proposes provisions of rehabilitation of the victim and family. Both the bills call for rigorous life imprisonment to the convict.
However, both the bills have been kept reserved by the Governors and are waiting for presidential assent.
In the past few years, this crime is on huge rise and we do not have any special law to punish it. There is no deterrence. You still cannot punish a ‘mob’. Presently Rioting, Rioting with deadly weapon, Unlawful assembly, Murder, Attempt to murder  and few other provisions of Indian Penal Code, 1860 are used. So the question comes - Do we need a new law or we can do with the present one? In my opinion, the Indian Penal Code is not sufficient.
What we need is a new enactment for the entire nation, so that:
It can set responsibilities of administration.
Cases can be fast tracked.
Hate crimes are curbed.
It can give a special procedure and make prosecution easier.
It is only when there is a strict law and fast procedure this crime can be stopped. These barbaric acts cannot be tolerated in a civilized nation.
REFERENCES  Zeeshan Shaikh , Palghar lynching: A recap of what happened, THE INDIAN EXPRESS( April 24,2020,7:01AM), https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/palghar-mob-lynching-mahant-kalpavruksha-giri-6370528
 Mausmi Singh, Civil society moots law to stop mob lynching: MASUKA, INDIA TODAY (July 7,2017, 19:00 AM), https://www.indiatoday.in/india/delhi/story/national-campaign-against-mob-lynching-masuka-manav-suraksha-kanoon-1023046-2017-07-07  Legal correspondent, SC lays down guidelines to curb lynching, THE TELEGRAPH (JULY 18, 2018), https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/sc-lays-down-guidelines-to-curb-lynching/cid/1351483  PTI, Anti-lynching Bills passed by Rajasthan and Manipur still waiting for presidential assent, NATIONAL HERALD (Nov. 19,2019, 4:13 PM), https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/politics/anti-lynching-bills-passed-by-rajasthan-and-manipur-still-waiting-for-presidential-assent  INDIAN PENAL CODE,1860, NO.45,Acts of Parliament , sec. 147  INDIAN PENAL CODE ,1860, NO.45,Acts of Parliament ,sec. 148  INDIAN PENAL CODE,1860, NO.45,Acts of Parliament, sec. 149  INDIAN PENAL CODE,1860, NO.45,Acts of Parliament , sec. 302  INDIAN PENAL CODE,1860, NO.45,Acts of Parliament , sec. 307