The incidents of mob lynching are not new in India. This country has witnessed
many such incidents earlier also. Every time an incident of this kind takes
place, the most common term which is attached with it is, ‘rumor'. But a closer
look at any incident of such kind transpires that there is always a pattern of
motive behind all such incidents. A recent case involving the lynching of two sadhus in the state of Maharashtra has raised this question once again that why
is it that we are changing our country from democracy to mobocracy?
The question as to accruing the responsibility of the shocking incident to
someone is a matter of inquiry. However, the video clips which have become
visible, not long after the occurrence of the said incident have raised some
serious questions. =
The behavior of the police officers who have been alleged to
remain the mute spectators of the incident raises some serious questions
regarding the current position of the law enforcement agencies. They have
represented the most obverse behavior of the police by standing as a ring master
of the mob justice happening there. The first and the foremost question to be
considered here is that despite the nationwide lock down, how far was it
justified on the part of the police to allow a crowd involving more than hundred
people to accumulate at that place. It seems as the police was unaware of the
laws of unlawful assembly.
At this point of time it seems very important to understand that the Hon'ble
Supreme Court of India had in the year 2018 while pronouncing it's verdict in
the case of Tahseen S. Poonawala v. UOI
(WP(C) No. 754/2016) specifically
described lynching as a horrendous act of mobocracy
The Hon'ble Court had
also directed both, the Centre and State governments to frame laws specifically
to deal with the crime of lynching. The Court had also laid down certain
guidelines for the effective justice administration like the setting up of
fast-track Courts for dealing with these matters. The Court had also laid stress
upon ensuring sufficient arrangements for ensuring compensation to the victims
and punishing the law- enforcing officers who fail to perform their duty.
However, it is extremely dismaying to know that these extremely pacifying
solutions suggested by the Hon'ble Court have not been implemented sufficiently
both, at the Central and the State level. As for now Manipur, West Bengal and
Rajasthan are the only three states that have enacted laws against mob lynching.
II. Present legal provisions to ensure punishment
With there being no Central legislation in this regard, the criminal justice
system is forced to operate with the existing laws for the delivery of justice.
Since lynching is an offence which is committed by several people jointly, they
are charged and tried jointly. Section 223 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
elucidates the conditions under which persons can be charged for an offence
jointly. It states that when several people are accused of the same offence
committed in the course of same transaction which is applicable to two or more
people, they can be charged jointly.
Nature of the offence
The attacks relating to lynching usually involves offences like harassment,
assault, attempt to murder. This is because most of these attacks involve
brutally beating, chaining, stripping and humiliating the victim.
The current legal provisions under which the offence of lynching is tried are
Where death is caused – The group of people may be charged u/s. 302 of the
Indian Penal Code for the offence of murder.
Where death is not caused-
- Under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code for culpable homicide not
amounting to murder.
- Under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code for the offence of attempt to
- Under Section 323 of the Indian Penal Code for causing voluntary hurt.
- Under Section 325 of the Indian Penal Code for causing grievous hurt.
Due to the involvement of more than one person in the commission of the offence
of lynching, the following provisions of the Indian Penal Code are also
1. Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code
According to this section when a criminal act is done by several persons in
regard to a common intention, each of such persons is liable for that act in
the same manner as if it were done by him alone.
2. Section 147 of the Indian Penal Code
This Section provides the punishment for the offence of ‘rioting' as specified
in section 146 of the code.
3.Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code-
This section identifies every member of an unlawful assembly to be guilty of an
offence committed in the prosecution of a common object if the members of that
assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of that object.
III. Solutions highlighted by the Hon'ble Supreme Court
The Hon'ble Supreme Court had, in its landmark judgement on the increased cases
of mob lynching in India made an observation that the common people of the
country cannot be allowed to take law in their hand under any circumstances.
Court had further ordered the registration of FIR under section 153 A of the
Indian Penal Code and other such provisions against anybody who indulges in this
practice. The Court had also directed for setting up of fast track Courts so
that the trial can run on a day-to-day basis in these matters. The Court had
also guided towards serving maximum punishments to the offenders involved in the
offence of mob lynching.
The Court had strictly directed the State governments to take disciplinary
action against those police officials who fail to prevent such incidents in
spite of having prior knowledge or against those who purposefully fail to
institute criminal proceedings against those involved in the offence.
The Court had stressed upon the point that the protection of the fundamental
right of life and liberty of a citizen is of paramount importance in a
democratic society and it is the responsibility of the governments to ensure the
At this point of time, it seems that, had these guidelines issued by the Court
been followed, the number of new incidents could hopefully have been reduced.
IV. The possible reasons behind such unruly behavior
If the sequence of responsibility is carefully observed in case of offences of
this kind, it can be reasonably understood that it starts form the police and
ends at the prosecution. The first responder to any such situation is the
police. Hence, it's responsibility is also of the cardinal nature. Any lacuna on
its part could trigger a situation where the gravest murder of the democracy can
be seen. Thus, it is the prime responsibility of the police officials to work
effectively in the direction of preventing and reducing these offences. Any
failure on the part of the law enforcing agencies could lead to the people
undermining the power of law and taking laws in their own hand.
This could lead
to a situation of anarchy, chaos and the emergence of a violent society.
Moreover, the responsibility of investigation also rests on the shoulders of the
police. In this situation also the role of police is important so as to drag the
offenders to the doors of justice. An effective investigation can serve two
purposes. First of all it can sweep out the anti-social elements from the
society. Secondly, it helps in strengthening the trust of people on the police.
After the law enforcing agencies, the next major responsibility lies upon the
shoulders of the prosecution. A bad prosecution can act as a poison for the case
and can be a contributing factor in the degradation of the justice delivery
system. It can cause unnecessary delay in the justice delivery system thereby
reducing the trust of the people in the justice delivery system of the country,
which as a result would lead to substantial increase in the possibility of
occurrence of such incidents in the future.
A closer look at the patterns of the cases of lynching show one common
characteristic, i.e. the loss of trust of the people. In most of the cases it
has been reported that the incidents of lynching happen due to the mob becoming
intolerant and furious after believing in the fake news and circulations. This
drives the people towards taking laws in their hands. Thus, one of the sole
reasons behind the occurrence of incidents of these types is the loss of faith
of the people on the State machinery. There is a need to rebuild the same.
V. Solutions thereto
1. Education and awareness
While it is true that in many cases these
incidents result from the unlawful behaviour of some anti-social elements, it is
equally true that many a times people participate in the commission of this
offence by falling prey to the rumours. Thus, it is very important to make
people aware of the machinery provided by the Constitution for the maintenance
of law and order in the society. Moreover, legal awareness programs should be
organised at the grassroot levels in the country to make people aware of the
consequences of breaking the law. In this manner, the involvement of poor
law-laymen can be reduced in these offences and the anti-social elements could
be identified and punished.
2. Re-establishing the faith of people upon the Sate machinery-
A number of
political thinkers and social philosophers have mentioned that ‘state' is an
entity without which an individual cannot exist. This is because the state has
the machinery to ensure the protection of the rights of the individuals so as to
transform the society into a civil society. It seems that people have started to
loose their faith and confidence in the state machinery due to which they have
turned up to the use of force. But these attempts can lead to the demolition of
the civil society. To prevent this, the following attempts could be made:
2.1.Ensuring effective policing:
Effective policing is a key to the functioning
of any democratic system. Effective policing ensures the protection of the
rights of the individual by maintaining law and order in the society. Many
political thinkers have mentioned ‘force' as an essential quality of a state.
This is because by the use of force in a rational manner a state can ensure
protection form external aggression and can also secure internal peace. Hence,
the trust of people in the state machinery can be ensured by strengthening the
police system. Effective policing can not only help in the proper investigation
of the offences but can also in some cases, prevent the occurrence of the
2.2.Ensuring effective prosecution:
There is a saying, ‘Justice delayed is
justice denied'. If the feeling of the denial of justice incepts in the mind of
people, then the entire justice delivery system will loose it's value. To ensure
complete justice, it is important to ensure effective prosecution. An effective
prosecution can help the Court in disposing off the cases more rapidly and
3. Removing the other roadblocks:
Many a times it is apparently visible that effective investigation does not
happen. This happens either because of the political collusion with the
offenders or other reasons. Whatever be the reasons, those who pose obstruction
in the way of the system must be punished. Thus, the government should make
provisions for punishing the public officials who fail to do their duty
effectively. Moreover, punitive measures should also be taken against the
politicians found guilty of obstructing the path of justice. It is only by these
means that a free, fair and impartial investigation can be ensured.
Lynching is the gravest offence against the humanity. This crime has
psychological links. The people are losing their trust and confidence in the
State machinery. The inefficient investigation, rampant corruption and the delay
in getting justice are some of the prominent factors behind the upheaval of
these crimes. Whatsoever the reasons may be, mobocracy cannot be allowed to be a
normal routine of the nation.
Allowing these type offences either through active
support or through passive neglect can lead to the saturation of democracy and
the installation of majoritarianism. It is time we decide whether we want rule
of law or rule of mob. To prevent this it is essential that all the pubic
officials perform their duty with awareness and integrity and any obstacle in
the path of rule of law is treated with severity.
- The Penal Code, 1860.
- The Penal Code, 1860.
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