[Burning Issue] Does India require an anti-lynching law?

Why in news?

Recently SC condemned the recent spate of lynchings as horrendous acts of mobocracy and told Parliament to make lynching a separate offence.

What is Mob Lynching?

  • Lynching is a premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group. It is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate a group.
  • It is an extreme form of informal group social control such as charivari,skimmingtonriding the rail, and tarring and feathering, and often conducted with the display of a public spectacle for maximum intimidation.
  • It is to be considered an act of terrorism and punishable by law.


  • The data website India Spend has compiled instances of cow-linked violence from 2010 to 2017. It found that during this period, 28 people were killed in 63 such incidents.
  • An overwhelming 97% of these attacks took place after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014.
  • About 86% of those killed were Muslims. In 21% of the cases, the police filed cases against the victims/survivors.
  • Cow-related lynchings rose sharply in 2017. This marks a 75% increase over 2016, which had been the worst year for mob lynchings since 2010.

Why anti-lynching law is necessary?

  1. Fills the void: It fills a void in our criminal jurisprudence.
  2. At present there is no law that criminalises mob killings: The Indian Penal Code has provisions for unlawful assembly, rioting, and murder but nothing that takes cognisance of a group of people coming together to kill (a lynch mob).
  3. Rise in Lynching incidents: As the India spend data shows that their has been rise in lynching incidents in recent years.

Reason for the rise in lynchings

1. Impunity

  • Major reason for the recent rise in lynchings is impunity.
  • The lynch mobs that murdered several people were confident of getting away with it. So far, the state has done little to shake that confidence.
  • The problem is not mob lynching per se but the mob lynching of minorities, for that is where impunity kicks in.
  • In the case of cow-linked lynchings, a lot depends on whether the incumbent in power considers it compatible with its political interests to crack down on such attacks.

2. Fake news

  • Another factor which gave rise to lynchings is the spread of fake news through social media platform.

3. Modernity

  • With modernity, there is growth of individualism and an erosion of associational life
  • Associations encourage us to appreciate others culture and moderate our aggressive instincts.


  • High Unemployment rates leave millions of youth unengaged.

Effect of lynching


  • It is against the values upheld in constitution of India.
  • Every individual have certain fundamental rights any violence would be curtailment of this right.
  • No regard to law and order in society.
  • This may lead to growth of feeling of sub-nationalism.
  • Radical and extremists organisations such as ISIS etc could take leverage of atmosphere created by such incidents


  • This impact solidarity of society and idea of Unity in diversity
  • This create an atmosphere of majority v/s minority
  • It could aggravate caste, class and communal hatred.
  • This may increase the extent of domestic conflict and subsequent militarization.
  • Such acts shows loss of tolerance in the society and people are being swayed by emotions,prejudices etc.


  • Lynching destroys the social fabric of the country, which indirectly effects the economy of the country.This impacts both foreign and domestic investment thereby adversely affecting sovereign ratings. Many International agencies warned India against mob lynching incidents.
  • It directly hampers internal migration which in turn affects economy.
  • Large resources deployed to tackle such menaces induces extra burden on state-exchequer.
  • These incidents would led to selective distribution of investment which may impact regional balance.

SC View on lynching:

  • SC condemned the recent spate of lynchings as horrendous acts of mobocracy and told Parliament to make lynching a separate offence.
  • It said the primary obligation of the government is to protect all individuals irrespective of race, caste, class or religion.
  • It observed that Crime knows no religion and neither the perpetrator nor the victim can be viewed through the lens of race, caste, class or religion.
  • It directed several preventive, remedial and punitive measures to deal with lynching and mob violence.
  • It ordered the Centre and the States to implement the measures and file compliance reports within the next four weeks.
  • It ordered the Centre and the States to take immediate steps to stop the dissemination of fake news or stories on social media, which tends to whip up a mob frenzy.
  • The court ordered the State governments to have a special task force to procure intelligence on people likely to spread hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news in each district.
  • The court directed that the police shall register an FIR under Section 153A (promoting enmity) of the IPC against the suspects.
  • If found guilty, a person faces up to five years of imprisonment.
  • The trial shall be held in a fast-track court on a day-to-day basis and completed in six months.
  • Maximum sentence should be granted to the guilty to make an example of them and serve as a deterrent.

Will the anti-lynching law be enough?

1. Its success depends on its implementation:

  • The effectiveness of the new law, if passed by Parliament, will depend on its implementation.
  • Going by past cases, the perpetrators of such crimes have so far escaped the hand of the law not because legal provisions were not in place, but for the lack of fair investigation, ineffective and delayed prosecution, threats to victims, policemen who looked the other way, and political support given to the accused

2. Already there are enough Provisions to deal with lynching:

  • There are enough provisions in the Indian Penal Code — for example, Sections 302 (murder), 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 307 (attempt to murder), 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) — to tackle such incidents.
  • These need to be implemented strongly and effectively. In September 2017, the Supreme Court had asked states to take strong measures, including appointing nodal officers at district level, to curb such instances of violence in the name of cow protection, but nothing much has happened to date.

3.Amend existing laws:

  • First of all, we don’t have something which defines hate crimes in a detailed manner. The only section which we can bring into the picture here is Section 153 A.
  • The Parliament can consider making the necessary amendments within the Penal Code instead of drafting a separate law for it.

Conclusion/way forward

  • States should be far more vigilant and proactive in flagging rumours using social media and other platforms. Some states are doing it, others need to emulate these examples.
  • For example, Telangana police officer, Rema Rajeshwari (Superintendent of Police, Jogulamba Gadwal district), has trained a team of 500 police officers to tackle the fake news menace.
  • These officers go to villages to spread awareness about social issues. Police personnel have also been added to local WhatsApp groups in villages to spot rumours that could lead to violence.
  • The more proactive the administration is in this regard, the stronger a deterrent it will be.
  • There is also a need for special court for the trial of mob violence


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