From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much.
Mains level : Paper 2-Protection of vulnerable section and mob lynching.
The spate of incidents of lynching over the past few years has led to a heightened sense of insecurity among the marginalised communities. The Centre should specify penal action against officials and doctors accused of dereliction of duty.
2018 Supreme Court Judgement
- In 2018, the Supreme Court described lynching as a “horrendous act of mobocracy”.
- The Court exhorted the Centre and State governments to frame laws specifically to deal with the crime of lynching.
- The SC laid down certain guidelines to be incorporated in these laws including
- Fast-track trials.
- Compensation to victims, and
- Disciplinary action against lax law-enforcers.
The State laws
- Manipur bill for the law against lynching: The Manipur government came up first with its Bill against lynching in 2018, incorporating some logical and relevant clauses.
- Provision of nodal officer: The Bill specified that there would be nodal officers in each district to control such crimes.
- Compensation to the victim: The law provides for adequate monetary compensation to the victims or their immediate kin.
- Punishment for failure to enforce the law: Police officers who fail to prevent the crime of lynching in their jurisdiction are liable to be imprisoned for a term that may extend from one to three years with a fine limit of ₹50,000.
- No concurrence of state for the prosecution of the police: No concurrence of the State government is required to prosecute them for dereliction of duty.
- Rajasthan bill: The government has accepted only a few guidelines issued by the apex court.
- No action against police officers: The bill is also silent on any action to be initiated against police officers who may be accused of dereliction of duty.
- West Bengal bill: Most other guidelines of the Supreme Court have been adopted by the State.
- Stringent punishment: Punishment for lynching to death is punishable with the death penalty or life imprisonment and a fine of up to ₹5 lakh.
What the Centre can do
- Adoption of the SC guidelines: The Centre should adopt the guidelines provided by the SC to deal with the crime.
- Action against doctors: Centre would do well to incorporate sections in the law for penal action against doctors who stand accused of-
- Dereliction of duty.
- For delay in attending to victims of lynching.
- For submitting false reports without carrying out a proper and thorough medical examination of the victims.
- The compensation scheme for victims: Under the compensation scheme for the victims, the amount to be paid to the victims should be recovered from the perpetrators of the crime.
- Collective fines: Collective fines should be imposed on the villagers where the lynching takes place.
- Punishment for a political leader for inciting the mob: Centre could even provide for punitive action against political leaders found guilty of inciting mobs.
- Punitive action against police: Punitive action to be taken against police officers accused of dereliction of duty, as incorporated in the law enacted by Manipur government, could be replicated in the Central law too.
- Punitive action as a deterrent: It would deter police officials acting in a partisan manner in favour of the lynch mob.
Until a zero-tolerance attitude is adopted in dealing with mob lynching, this crime will continue to show a rising trend.