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Mob Violence: The Way Forward

For the smooth functioning of a democracy, it's important to have an efficient administration of law and justice. It was for this purpose that a Union Judiciary in the form of Hon’ble Supreme Court was established under the Article 124 of the Constitution of India.

As we all know the Constitution also throws light on the establishment of many State High Courts (Under Article 214) and other Sub-Ordinate Courts (Part 6) for the efficacious deliverance of justice and also for assisting the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Proper implementation of Law is a very important aspect of governance, especially in a democratic country. The third pillar of democracy viz. the Executive carries out the job of executing the policies of the government. Among these executive bodies, the Police Force is responsible for the proper implementation and enforcement of law in the country.

Now, as an effect of federal structure, the law and order are a state subject, which means that the respective states and union territories are responsible for maintenance of their respective police force and also the enforcement of law. Although at the level of Central Government also, there is a scope of some control over the maintenance of law and order. This is because most of the law enforcement agencies in India work under the authority of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Police is one of the most ubiquitous institution of India. As one can easily observe the police force in India is omnipresent. In an hour of need, danger or crisis & chaos, when a citizen doesn’t know what to do & whom to approach, the police station and a policeman happen to be the most appropriate entity for its redressal. Whether it’s a mere conflict or any incident of that of a large magnitude like a terrorist attack, police is the first one to come and the last one to leave the scene of incident.

However, certain incidents which have become a trend in the last few years have been hampering the efficient administration of law and justice as well as the enforcement of law in the country. It has been seen that many a times people assume themselves to be the judiciary and start executing their own methods of administration of justice and execution of their own laws, which are mostly based on their societal norms based on their culture, tradition, indigenous literature and values.

The result of such acts is a case of Mob Lynching . This has also been condemned in Krishnamoorthy v Sivakumar and others[i], where the honourable Supreme Court has said that:
 the law is the mightiest sovereign in a civilized society . Therefore 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 its 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.[ii]

The origin of the word ‘lynch’ is said to have originated during the American Revolution phrased as Lynch Law which is a punishment without trial. The word lynch or lynch law has been derived from two Americans known as Charles Lynch and William Lynch who were from Virginia. During 1782, Charles Lynch had written that the ‘Loyalist’ or ‘Tories’ who were supporters of British side were provided Lynch Laws to deal with the Negroes.[iii]

India has been witnessing an unusual increase in the crime related to mob violence, under the curtain of religion, traditions, fake kidnapping incidents, etc. One of the strangest reasons for lynching today is cow slaughter, cattle smuggling or beef consuming. Mostly the victims of Lynch in India are minorities of that particular area such as Dalit’s and Muslims.

What is Mob Lynching?

When a mob of people, under the pretext of administering justice, without providing an opportunity of a fair trial, executes any person, who is presumed to be the offender by the mob, inflicting torture and corporal mutilation, this act is termed as an act of lynching.

These acts of violence involve self-constituted Courts, where the mob holds the trial and imposes the punishment and sentence on a person based on the laws formed by the mob, which are inspired by religion, tradition, customs, etc. Many a times these types of trials also don’t happen and the angry mob starts the execution of punishment based on certain presumptions and stereotypes.

The mob in this case may be religiously motivated or inspired by any ideology. These incidents of lynching’s, may carry out the execution of the punishments which may be with the intention of benefit of the society at large.

It’s important to understand the potential of such mobs or groups of people. The very concept if Salva Judum  revolves around channelizing the potential of such groups for the benefit of the people themselves. It was used to spread Anti-Naxal propaganda. However, the result of organizing the trials in such groups was no as it was supposed to be. This can be supported on the basis of the factors which led to the failure of this very concept.

One such factor was that the trial’s which constituted these salva Judum had a lot of conflicts among themselves, due to which the villagers were being hurt a lot. The villagers became sandwiched due to the pressure exerted on them by the Naxalites on one side and the Salva Judum on the other side. There were many cases of Human Rights Violations against these state-backed militias ranging from mass scale genocides to burning down entire villages.

This tells us that, we cannot give the responsibility of administration of law and justice as well as its enforcement to a group of people as they can never judge or manage any case properly and professionally as is done by the judiciary and police. This can be due to the group psyche of that specific mob is affected by many factors like existing stereotypes towards a specific community or a group of the society.

For e.g. if the relations of Religion-A and Religion-B have been strained for a long time and if any incident occurs in front of a mob of Religion-A and the mob suspects a person of Religion-B to be behind that incident, they will lynch him/her. This is a result of just their suspicion coupled with the stereotypes arising due to strained religious relationship between the two groups.

Antecedents for Mob Violence in India

(i) Communalism & Politics

India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said in his book The Discovery of India India is a geographical entity, a cultural unity amidst diversity, a bundle of contradictions held together by strong but invisible threads [iv].

A lot can be inferred about the importance of religion in our country from these lines. India is a country consisting of diversities in religion, cultures and traditions. According to the 2011 census the literacy rate in India hovers around 79.04%. Majority of India’s population, about 68% according to the 2011 census, live in rural areas, where the education facilities are not good. As a result, in most of the remote areas, the initiative of education is taken up by religious institutions like temples, mosques, etc.

This, although being a good initiative for social service, restricts the intellectual flexibility of a child’s mind towards other religions in case of any religious conflict. Communalism can be considered as an ideology which states that society is divided into religious communities whose interests differ and are, at times, even opposed to each other. The antagonism practised by members of one community against the people of other community and religion can be termed as communalism [v].

The feeling of communalism among the citizens is very bad for national integrity and harmony. The concept of mass mobilization for communal violence has been harbouring itself in the form of mob violence and lynching. There are many theories which have been given to explain this phenomenon.

The Theory of Polarisation and Cluster Effect[vi] which has been highlighted by VV Singh in his book provides a frame of reference to study the incidents of communal violence. It somewhat explains the nature of communal violence that exists between the Hindu and Muslim community regarding various issues like Ram mandir Issue, Cow slaughter, etc.

The question of religious tolerance among the people was also highlighted in the case of Shri Adi Visheshwara of Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi and others v. State of UP and others [vii] where the Court said that:
Unity in diversity is the Indian culture and ethos. The tolerance of all religious faiths, respect for each other’s religion are our ethos . One of the challenges before the Courts is that they have to make the people realize the importance and rule of law as well as provide a way of conduct to them in order to secure their rights and deliver justice.

We can see that the Courts try to place the Constitutional values at the same pedestal as that of the religious values, thus trying to strengthen the unity among the people. Let’s talk about the issue of Cow Slaughter and the Mob violence resulting out of it. A lot of media houses have been conducting debates regarding the political and religious identity of cow.

Some regard it as a sacred entity, whereas, for some it’s a political tool which can be used in many ways like spreading their political propaganda, mobilizing the majority on common grounds and many other ways which eventually help the political leaders as well as the religious leaders in gaining the support of the mass and achieving their political ambition. Most of the Right Winged organizations like the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) project it as a religious animal which should be protected and worshipped at all costs.

The facts and the truth about the whole issue of Cow protection became more clear when DN Jha, a renowned historian gave an interview to Frontline in 2016. He said These cow vigilantes have no love for the cow. Otherwise cows would not have been eating plastic at garbage dumps. They just hate the Muslims and Dalits. The cow is just a political animal [viii]. This statement puts a lot of questions to the true motive of the so called Gau Rakshaks.

These ill-informed communalists who create a ballyhoo about cow slaughter and cow protection don’t even know about the history of cow and its role in the Indian society. On the basis of some superficial knowledge they are able to mobilize the common masses who again are not aware about their history.

Even RS Sharma has highlighted the history of cow and its importance in the Ancient Indian society in his book, through which we can also predict as to why it has always been a source of any conflict. The Rig Vedic people can be called predominantly pastoral people. Most of their wars were fought over cows.

The term for war in the Rig Veda is gavishthi or search for cows, and the cow seems to have been the most important form of wealth. Whenever we hear of gifts made to priests, they usually consist of cows and women slaves and never of land [ix].

Since the early Aryans were primarily pastoralists, their pastoral economy was responsible for most of their actions and strategies. For e.g. their culture of destroying a settlement and moving forward, it was after coming to the Indian Sub-continent that they started a settled life and agriculture. There is no evidence of any sort of currency being used by the traders as well as the common people at that time, which makes it very clear that the medium of exchange in such a pastoral economy was cattle as they followed a barter system.

This fact is itself sufficient to indicate the importance of cow and cattle. The cow was never assorted a religious significance, though it was used in sacrificial practices and rituals, it was never as such worshipped. From the very beginning, cow has been an asset for the society in economic terms as it was one of the mediums to carry out business, secondly it could be tamed easily to extract milk and other products from it. The cow was never used for spiritual elevation. In 20th Century everybody used cow as a political weapon. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Dayanand Sarasvati used it for the mobilization of Hindus.

This even resulted in many Hindu-Muslim riots. Since 1925, the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) has used it in the same way. It has been used for politics, not just simple politics, but communal politics. It’s an attempt at polarization. The cow has nothing to do with the sacred or the spiritual. It is just a political animal [x]. The Mahabharata too refers to well-respected king Rantideva.

He was a man ‘in whose kitchen two thousand cows were butchered each day, their flesh, along with grain, being distributed among the Brahmanas’. He acquired a lot of fame and respect among the Brahmin class who portrayed this as an act of philanthropy. Even during the Mughal rule a shortage in cattle was observed due to the rise of non-vegetarian diet in the population.

During that time also the cow didn’t have any religious significance, emphasis on their conservation and protection was made so that they can be further used for the sacrificial purposes in the Hindu rituals. It was after the failure of the Revolt of 1857 that the cow came to occupy important space in the life of a Hindu, at least in North India. The emergence of cow protection groups like the Gaurakshini Sabhas can be seem around the 1870s, after the Revolt of 1857.

Although the initial targets of these organizations were not Muslims but the British, whom they held responsible for cow slaughter. Basically, after the revolt a group of people recognized Cow as a subject for mobilizing the Hindu masses, which they used against the British and then the Muslims.

We cannot deny the fact that most of these lynching occurs out of some sort of political support and affiliation. Call it political patronage for crime, but there is no denying that behind almost every lynching incident, there have been leaders of political party to lend the accused a shoulder, to guide them, to pick them up if they were to stumble or fail, and to fire salvos at the victims with such audacity that the victims, at times, appeared villains [xi].

This can also be seen as a way of propagating political ideology ad propaganda among the people. Just as the communist guerrilla organizations like the FARC in Columbia, and the Naxalites in India use arms and guerrilla warfare in the jungles to spread their ideology and propaganda among the poor and the suppressed classes of the society, some political parties have constituted small militias under the banner of different organizations which carry out the same activities like the Naxalites in an urban setting.

Hinduisation of public spaces also helps to mobilise solidarity for groups targeting minority communities. Small groups signing religious or devotional songs or distributing religious pamphlets can be increasingly seen in local trains, parks and other public spaces. They often propagate anti-minority rumours and sentiments. Within Hindu communities, the formation of cow protection groups has intensified in recent years and has also contributed to the spread of rumours and hate speech  [xii].

There are many articles regarding violence against the Muslim class and the minorities, most of them see this as a conflict based on caste of religion. However, we need to understand one thing, that the leaders in such political parties are a part of the vicious cycle of power, which is a different caste itself. These extremist organizations are nothing more than a political tool which are used for a desirable outcome. Minorities no longer expect the ruling BJP to condemn the mob lynchings.

What is more worrying is that other political parties are also not too forthcoming. Other than in one or two tweets and customary condemnation, they have refrained from visiting the victims or their surviving families. An imaginary Hindu fear seems to have overpowered the political class and rendered them paralysed.

Their failure to come forward in support of Muslims and Christians shows that the secular resolve in the Indian body politic has weakened [xiii]. In all of this the gullible people of our country followed them like sheep’s in a flock and whosoever tried to question this, was labelled as a threat to religion and nowadays as an anti-national.

(ii) Public Outrage

As we know that the very concept of mob violence is against the law and order established in the country, yet sometimes the harm (mental) caused by such incidents on the psyche of the people is not actually harmful in a sense and of a very low magnitude. Many times, these lynchings emerge as a result of public reaction with respect to any event or policy. One such incident occurred in 2004 which gave a new perspective to mob violence.

At 3pm on August 13 2004, Akku Yadav was lynched by a mob of around 200 women from Kasturba Nagar. It took them 15 minutes to hack to death the man they say raped them with impunity for more than a decade. Chilli powder was thrown in his face and stones hurled. As he flailed and fought, one of his alleged victims hacked off his penis with a vegetable knife. A further 70 stab wounds were left on his body. The incident was made all the more extraordinary by its setting. Yadav was murdered not in the dark alleys of the slum, but on the shiny white marble floor of Nagpur district Court. [xiv].

Akku Yadav was more of a local gangster of the Kasturba Nagar locality who terrorized the families living there. Famous for murdering and dumping their corpses on the railway track, he raped the women of most of the families in that area in order to establish his supremacy and fear over others.

For him, rape was a symbol of his despotism and totalitarianism. Even the police (as reported by the local residents) did not take up this matter seriously, which is one of the most potential precursors to such kind of mob violence. The people tend to assume themselves as the flagbearers of justice and equality when they see that the institution of police as well as the, due to which such incidents happen.

In India, even to admit to being raped is taboo, yet dozens of Yadav's victims reported the crime. But the 32-year-old was never charged with rape. Instead, the women say, the police would tell him who had made the reports and he would come after them.

According to residents, the police were hand-in-glove with Yadav: he fed the local officers bribes and drink, and they protected him [xv]. The issue of corruption in the law enforcement agencies gives a severe blow to the trust which a society must have on them. It not only dishonours them among the society but also makes them sandwiched between criminals and corruption which leads to the development of feelings like anger and vengeance. This incident paved way for various women’s right activists as well as people from a variety of disciplines to justify and advocate mob violence and mob vigilantism.

Even the honourable judges of our esteemed Courts had their opinion regarding this incident. After Yadav's murder, powerful voices were raised supporting the lynch mob. Prominent lawyers issued a statement saying the women should not be treated as the accused, but as the victims. One retired high Court judge even congratulated the women. "In the circumstances they underwent, they were left with no alternative but to finish Akku.

The women repeatedly pleaded with the police for their security. But the police failed to protect them," said Justice Bhau Vahane.  [xvi]. Due to such incidents a change can, be observed in the psyche of the criminals. After committing any gross crime, they tend to develop a fear of falling prey to the claws of the people. This was also seen in the case of the juvenile who was convicted in the Nirbhaya gangrape case.

He was found guilty of raping a 23 years old girl in December 2016. According to some news reports he was sent to the southern part of India with a new identity for his rehabilitation. He was always worried about getting lynched and that is why he was sent to the southern part of the country. Now, the verdict has come, focus will again move to him but he is at a place where he might not even see the national news channels.

His employer is not aware of his past and even he has left it behind, said an NGO official, who was part of his rehabilitation process [xvii]. The above statement reveals the amount of fear these criminals have for the society. Unfortunately, if such fear would have been able to penetrate their sinister minds before committing or even thinking about such a crime, a lot of lives could have been saved and the society could have been a safer place for women.

After seeing all this one might feel that mob vigilantism is the key to solve the issue of crimes against women. These mobs are just like a drove of oxen’s which, when let loose run indiscriminately and without any control over their movement which results into disastrous consequences. We cannot justify mob violence as a way of improving the condition of our society. A woman was stripped and paraded naked by a mob in eastern India's Bihar state on the suspicion of killing a man.

The mob burned the woman's house, dragged her out on to the street and beat her, police said. The incident took place on 20th August, 2018 after the body of Vimlesh Shah, 19, was found near a railway track in Bhojpur district. Police told BBC Hindi that they are still investigating and do not know the circumstances of Shah's death.

They added that they were awaiting the post-mortem report to ascertain the cause of death. There appear to be several videos of the incident that are being circulated on WhatsApp. The police said they took action after they saw one of the videos. The mob also set fire to several shops, houses and vehicles in her neighbourhood. Police have deployed additional forces for security  [xviii].

(iii) Media

Media is known as the 4th pillar of democracy. There are a lot of reasons which can prove the above statement. The society has been witnessing the actions of media regarding any issue and the rapid reaction made to it by the parties concerned and involved.

he amount of potential media has is enough to bring about a change in the society. Media has often played a significant role in shaping public opinion on various issues like elections, government policies, etc. A large chunk of this information revolves in social media domain through a number of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc.

With more than 200 million users, India is WhatsApp biggest market. Its users forward more messages, photo and videos, than any other country in the world. Groups on WhatsApp can have a maximum of 256 people. Many of the messages that are believed to have triggered violence were forwarded to multiple groups which had more than 100 members each [xix].

The social media now days is infamous for spreading fake news among the population of the largest democracy in the world. Such rumours and fake news need to be removed from the social media domain as its not only hurting the sentiments of people but is also destroying the true spirit of democracy in this country.

A lot of fake videos showing children being abducted from streets have gone viral, instigating locals to target any stranger whom they feel to be a complete alien towards their culture and language. Last year only two tourists, Niltopal Das (29) and Abhijeet Nath (30) were lynched to death by a mob in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district, 117 miles from the state capital Dispur.

Both had gone to a picnic spot in the area to visit a waterfall and were viciously attacked on their return by a mob that accused them of being child lifters. Officials said the attack was prompted by rumours spread via telephone calls and WhatsApp messages that the two were fleeing in their black SUV with a kidnapped child [xx]. As we all know, in the 21st century, the technology has exceeded our humanity. New technologies create new criminal opportunities.

With the birth of Internet, along came another revolution of crime where the perpetrators commit acts of crime and wrongdoing on the World Wide Web. Internet crime takes many faces and is committed in diverse fashions.

This has been seen in many cases of mob lynchings. According to the police files and statements, a lot of doctored video messages, depicting children being snatched from streets had been circulated, resulting in local mobs beating up and killing anyone who looked unfamiliar or could speak the local language or dialect. Local reports of several such killings have also suggested that these were executed to settle scores by the victims’ business, social or even political rivals [xxi].

The advent of social media networks in modern nation-states has led to what some call radically networked societies  (societies that communicate, organise and mobilise much faster than traditional hierarchical states can respond) [xxii].

Not only the social media platforms, but even the cinema has influenced and provoked a section of our society to indulge into criminal activities. Narrating an incident to TOI, Kunwar Raghvendra Pratap Singh, in charge of Women's Power Line 1090, shared a story about a boy from Meerut who was inspired by Vivek Oberoi's character in 2007's Shootout at Lokhandwala.

A 15-year-old was kidnapped by his classmates by a group of students who later called up the boy's father and demanded 50,000 for ransom and later brutally murdered the victim. Only during the investigations, it was revealed by the accused that he was so impressed with actor Vivek Oberoi's character in the film Shootout at Lokhandwala, that he was inspired to commit a similar crime. The young boy also had the movie stored on his mobile and watched it every day, trying to imitate Oberoi's mannerisms [xxiii].

Although the intention of such movies is not to instigate the youth towards committing crime, but to prevent them from doing so through the medium of movies. There is also a section of the society which gets motivated by movies like Shootout at Lokhandwala to join the police force and other law enforcement agencies to root out corruption and crime from our society. However, a lot of psychological studies have shown that shows based on criminology, crime investigations, etc tend to increase the tendency of committing crime among its viewers.

No Special Law to Deal with the Issue of Mob Violence

This phenomenon of mob violence is different from other types of crime as the basic intention behind committing such acts is to deliver justice and execution of punishment on the basis of some news or facts which have no authentication. Another difficulty faced by the authorities and especially the police in such cases is the investigation of crime after it has been committed.

Usually it has been seen that there is a lack of resources and manpower at the district level administration which eventually results in unorganized execution of the policies as well as compromises the maintenance of law and order.

In order to handle a large mob, the police must have the required equipment and adequate force to handle such situations, only then the effects of such ordinances and guidelines would be seen in the society and their benefits will be derived by the society. However, as far as mob violence is concerned a separate and a specialized law is required to deal with this problem.

In the recent years there have been many specialized laws like the Anti-Hijacking Act of 2016 and the IT Act of 2000 which deal specifically in their respected domains. Despite of absence of any special law regarding mob violence the police has been dealing with such offences under the existing provisions of the Indian Penal Code,1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. As far as the IPC is considered Section 141 to 149 can be put to use when dealing with any case regarding mob violence. However, the intention behind rioting and lynching is different and so should be the way in which they are tackled.

Emergence of Supreme Court Guidelines

The case of Tehseen S. Poonawalla v Union of India[xxiv] proved to be a turning point regarding the issue of mob violence in India. A petition was filed by Mr TS Poonawalla, who is a well renowned social activist, before the honourable Supreme Court of India regarding the issue of mob violence and the spread of fake news on different social media platforms which provoke such violent incidents.

The main relief sought by the petitioner was regarding protection from such violent groups who usually carried out the lynchings under the garb of cow protection. The second relief sought by the petitioner was regarding the removal of the sensitive material from the social media which includes fake news, communal posts, etc.

All this eventually resulted in the formation of certain guidelines by the honourable Supreme Court to deal with the cases of mob violence. Previously also the Supreme Court has been addressing the issue of lack of legislation to deal with such situations by issuing certain guidelines, like the case of Vishakha and others V. State of Rajasthan and others[xxv] where the honourable Supreme Court of India gave a set of guidelines known as the Vishakha Guidelines until the Sexual Harrasment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013 was legislated and enacted by the parliament. The Supreme Court is entitled by the Constitution to give certain guidelines regarding such issues under Article 141. The same has been done in this case also.

The Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Ordinance

Despite the order of the highest Court of India, the respective state governments didn’t comply with it properly. Manipur took the initiative of introducing the first legislation related to the issue of mob violence and spread of fake news. Its definition of lynching as specified in Chapter I of the ordinance is  means any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting such act/acts thereof, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds or on mere suspicion of commission of a cognizable crime not amounting to a heinous one [xxvi].

This definition can also be used in context of the hate crimes which, again, are common these days. However, there is a difficulty in looking at this ordinance and using it through the perspective of prosecuting the people involved in hate crimes, as far as incidents of hate crimes are concerned they are usually committed individually by a person, whereas according to this ordinance, these crimes need to be performed by a mob which according to the ordinance means a group of two or more individuals, assembled with a common intention of lynching [xxvii].
 Nevertheless, the main aspect of such crimes is the intention behind committing them and this ordinance does helps to put a psychological pressure upon the people of Manipur which will eventually decrease the incidents of mob violence in the state.

The guidelines laid down by the Honourable Supreme Court of India in the case of Tehseen S. Poonawalla v Union of India[xxviii] have been given after a lot of debate and discussion and provide a multidimensional approach towards mob violence. As far as the Manipur Protection from Mob violence Ordinance, 2018 is concerned, its provisions resemble a lot to the guidelines given by the Supreme Court.

However, the later one being an ordinance is more precise in terms of defining the roles, duties and procedure of the involved entities. Both of them have talked about appointment of a Nodal Officer who will be of a rank of Superintendent of Police and above and will be assisted by an officer of Deputy SP rank. Each district will have its own Nodal Officer.

Both of them shall constitute a Special Task Force which will help them to procure daily intelligence reports regarding the areas where lynching is likely to take place and also about the entities who are involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and most importantly fake news as well as rumours.

The duties of the Nodal Officer not only revolve around implementing preventive measures, but also in monitoring and ensuring a fair and a fast trial in case any person has been arrested in regard of this ordinance. He/she can also ask help from the Director General of Police in case multiple districts are involved in any conflict which require state intervention on a large scale.

The guidelines and the ordinance have also highlighted the power of the police to disperse a civil assembly by the use of force in case they feel that this assembly might change into a mob resulting into disastrous consequences. For this Section 129 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 has been specified. As far as the recognition and definition of offences is concerned, the SC guidelines are silent, whereas Chapter IV of the Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Ordinance has defined most of the offences regarding this issue with their corresponding punishments which will be discussed under the next heading.

One of the best features of the SC guidelines which has been incorporated in this ordinance is the 180 day time period within which the statements of the victims are to be recorded for the trial and further investigation and to make the trial easy for the victim, he/she is not required to attend the Court hearing more than 2 days and the respected Superintendent of Police would notify the victim/s about the updates regarding the trial.

Not only this, but the victim has also been given benefits of free legal aid and if he/she chooses to engage any advocate from those enrolled in the legal aid panel under the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987, the State Legal Aid Services Authority shall bear all the costs and fees of the advocate who has been appointed by the victim and I case he/she has appointed any other advocate has been recommended by the victim, his expenses shall also be borne by the State Government. As far as the security of the witness is concerned, the Courts have allowed the witness to keep his/her identity confidential.

The trial of such cases shall be carried out by a specially appointed judge who must have had an experience of being a Sessions Judge or a District Judge previously, in accordance to the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

He/she can also try the accused for any other offence committed by him other than that mentioned in the ordinance. In accordance with the guidelines of the honourable Supreme Court, the Government of Manipur has also inserted the provision of Relief and Rehabilitation under the Chapter VII of the Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Ordinance, which talks about setting up of a special relief fund to compensate the victims within 30 days of the incident. This has been done in the light of the provisions mentioned under Section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

In case any such incident of mob violence results in the displacement of the victim/s or the whole community, there is a provision of establishment of Relief Camps under Section 29 of the Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Ordinance, which would include basic shelter to protect the residents from extreme weather and provide privacy to women and girls, adequate nutrition, security, drinking water, clothing, sanitation, educational facilities for the children, counselling centres, etc.

These camps will also be equipped with medical services including antenatal and postnatal care of expectant mothers, paediatric care, etc. However, there is a defined limit which needs to be met in order to establish such camps which corresponds to displacement of more than 50 persons.

Special Features of the Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Ordinance

There are a lot of new things which have been introduced in this ordinance that will definitely bring about a change in the government and administrative machinery. The Section 26 of the Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Ordinance (2018) talks about the constitution of a review committee .

This committee will be headed by an officer of the level of an Inspector-General of Police, which shall be formed under the guidance of the State Government in case any police officer doesn’t presents the charge sheet after three months from the time when the first information report (FIR) was filed and in case any insubordination is observed on the part of any such police officer, an officer of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police shall be assigned to investigate more about this matter and report back to the review committee.

Interestingly, no such guideline was issued by the Supreme Court in this regard. This committee would also have the power to review the cases of offences defined under this ordinance which result in acquittal of the accused and if required, it can also issue orders to file appeals for such cases. Some other special features of this ordinance include the offences and punishments defined in the Chapter IV and V of the ordinance. There are a variety of offences which include dissemination of offensive material, conspiracy or abetment or aides or attempt to lynch, etc. The Section 10 of Chapter IV of this ordinance talks about the punishment for obstructing legal process which includes an imprisonment for five years and fine.

This section has been influenced a lot by the sub-section 2 of Section 141 of the Indian Penal Code,1890 and says almost the same thing, yet in a different context. Even the nature of punishments provided in this ordinance are different from the usual ones, for e.g. this ordinance emphasizes more on the aspect of charging the accused with fines up to 5 lakh rupees in addition to imprisonment.

This ordinance has very briefly mentioned the amount of fine as well as the term of imprisonment to be served under any specific crime committed under this ordinance. Section 15 of this ordinance deals with the dereliction of duty by a police officer, under which if a police officer fails to implement and execute the necessary actions required during an instance of lynching, without any reasonable cause, he shall be liable to pay a fine extending up to fifty thousand rupees and a prison term of one year which might be extended up to three years. The provision of initiating such inquires against the police officers responsible for insubordination and corruption during the investigations will solve a lot of problems as the police are the first responders to any such crime.

There are a lot of complaints related to the conduct of the police as well as the way they treat the victims of a crime, this provision has been introduced in respect of the Supreme Court guidelines which will eventually help in the investigation as well as the trial of such crimes. Another unique feature of this ordinance is that it has introduced a provision of checking and reviewing the powers and conduct of the Government employees which includes the executive as well as the judiciary and not just the police, which can be seen in the Section 21 of this ordinance which says that:
The provisions of sections 196 and 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 shall not apply to offences committed under this Ordinance and the Court may take cognizance of such offence when satisfied that the said offence has been committed. [xxix].

The provision of issuing a prior sanction from the government before taking the crime of any public servant or any judge into cognizance which was followed under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is not applicable in accordance to the offences defined under the Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Ordinance (2018) and the Court can take note of such offences without obtaining any notification from the government.

There has been a recent increase in the incidents pertaining to violence and lynching by mobs in some parts of the country which are fuelled by fake news and rumours pertaining to sensitive issues and sentiments of the people in context of religion and culture. All such activities not only compromise the harmony and integrity of our citizens and country, but is a pure violation of basic human rights as well as the procedures established by law in this country. Martin Luther King Jr. once said ‘ It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important ‘.

Therefore, it’s time for the parliament to discuss, deliberate, draft and pass a special law addressing the issue of mob violence as well as hate crimes done in the name of religion and rumours. As modern issues require a modern solution, the Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Ordinance (2018) is one such solution. The provisions of this ordinance will not only help us to curb such crimes but will also ensure whether the enforcement of law and order is being done properly by the respected agencies or not.

It has been 2 years since this ordinance was implemented within Manipur. Although, there isn’t enough statistical evidence available to determine the efficiency of this ordinance. However, there are certain facts which remain the same, Manipur hasn’t been affected much by rising communal tensions as compared to other parts of the country. Therefore, a proper law is the need of the hour and this issue must be addressed by the Legislature through introducing an appropriate legislation which could be implemented in the whole country. Such a legislation should be inspired from the Manipur Ordinance as it indicates a dynamic way of curbing this issue.

  1. 3 SCC, 467 (2015)
  2. Tehseen S. Poonawalla v. Union of India, 6 SC, 72 (2018)
  3. Seema Uikey & Nidhi Dubey, Mob lynching in India: What’s app as social media to ‘anti’ social media, 4 International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Research 35-40 (2018)
  4. Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India (1946)
  5. Ram Ahuja, Social Problems in India 104 (2nd ed., 1992)
  6. Id. at 124
  7. 4 SCC, 606 (1997)
  8. DN Jha, The cow is just a political animal, The Hindu, September 02, 2016, available at ( last visited 22nd March, 2020)
  9. RS Sharma, India’s Ancient Past 109 (2005).
  10. Supra note 8
  11. Ziya Us Salam, Lynch Files 15-16 (2019)
  12. Apoorvanand, What is behind India's epidemic of 'mob lynching'?, Al Jazeera, 6 Jul 2017, available at (last visited on 24th March, 2020)
  13. Ibid
  14. Raekha Prasad, 'Arrest us all': the 200 women who killed a rapist, The Guardian, Fri 16 Sep 2005, available at (last visited on 22nd March 2020)
  15. Ibid
  16. Ibid
  17. Faizan Haider, Juvenile in 2012 Delhi gang rape case ‘unaware’ of verdict, now works as a cook , Hindustan Times, May 05, 2017, available at (last visited on 22nd March, 2020)
  18. BBC, India woman beaten and paraded naked by mob , BBC News, 21 August 2018, available at (last visited on 31st January, 2020)
  19. Supra note 3, 37
  20. Rahul Bedi, Two more lynched in India as police struggle to contain WhatsApp rumours of child kidnappers , 11 June 2018, available
  21. at (last visited on 22nd March, 2020)
  22. Ibid
  23. Supra note 3 at 39
  24. Anurag Verma, 7 Times Indians Got Inspired By Bollywood Movies to Commit Real Life Crimes , April 13, 2018, available at (last visited on 22nd March, 2020)
  25. Supra note 2
  26. AIR SC 3011 (1997)
  27. The Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Ordinance, 2018 (Act 3 of 2018), s.2(d)
  28. Ibid., s. 2(e)
  29. Supra note 2
  30. Supra note 26, s.21

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