Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] The law isn’t enough


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Limitations of a law against lynching


The absence of figures relating to incidents of lynching in the recently released NCRB database on the pretext that the data received from the states were “unreliable” hints at a deliberate attempt to keep the figures under wraps.

Lynching data

  • Figures available from various other sources indicate that in 63 incidents, 28 persons were killed between 2010 and 2017, of which 24 were Muslims.
  • There have been 266 cases of lynching since 2014 and this continues to show an upward trend.

Role of police

  • In some incidents, the police have been part of the lynching mob.
  • Police has played a partisan role in most incidents of lynching. There have been cases where policemen acted promptly and prevented incidents of lynching. 

Law against lynching

  • The Supreme Court has directed the Centre and all states to frame stringent laws against lynching. 
  • Manipur passed an anti-lynching law last November. Rajasthan and West Bengal have passed such legislation more recently.
  • West Bengal’s law is stringent, punishing with death those held guilty of lynching victims to death. 

Limitations of law

  • Laws will be futile unless they are strictly enforced on the ground. 
  • Political patronage to fundamentalist elements will deter the policemen from doing their duty.

Other corrective steps needed

  • Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission has stressed the need to take stringent action against officials for dereliction of their duties. 
  • The district magistrate and police officers can be imprisoned for a term extending upto three years with a fine upto Rs 5000.
  • Monitoring fake news and arresting those who originate and forward news that could trigger mob violence or communal unrest.
  • The police has to spread its intelligence dragnet such that any plan to upset the law and order machinery is reported to the control room within minutes. 
  • Districts that are communally sensitive ought to have additional armed and well-equipped companies to rush to any spot within minutes to handle frenzied mobs.
  • Prompt investigations into incidents of mob lynching should be followed by arrests and trial by fast track courts.
  • The police should protect the witnesses and the victims. 
  • Lynching must be made a non-bailable offence. 
  • Policemen who watch as mute spectators should also be tried in the same manner as the culprits. Senior police officers also need to be taken to task if found guilty of dereliction of duty.
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