AMID A RISE in number of mob lynching cases across India, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday said that "horrendous acts of mobocracy" cannot be tolerated and recommended the Centre to enact a separate law against lynching and vigilantism. Criticising government for its failure to stop mob lynching incidents, Supreme Court said the onus lies on both the Centre and State governments to check these incidents and create law against lynching. "It has to be curbed with an iron hand… no citizen can take law into his hands or become a law on to himself," said the top court.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also passed a slew of directions to provide "preventive, remedial and punitive measures" to deal with offences like mob violence and cow vigilantism.
"The State is duty-bound to ensure law and order and to prevent mobocracy. Horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be allowed to become a new norm and has to be curbed with iron hands" Court said. It said that states cannot turn a deaf ear to such incidents and asked the Centre and States to file compliance report on the issue.
"No citizen can take law into their hands. In case of fear and anarchy, the state has to act positively. Violence can't be allowed," Supreme Court said. The top court passed the order on a plea seeking formulation of guidelines to curb such violent incidents in the country.
The court said the growing numbness of the ordinary Indian to the frequent incidents of lynchings happening right before his eyes in a society based on rule of law is shocking. The government should see the judgment as a "clarion call" in a time of exigency and work towards strengthening the social order.
The bench asked the legislature to consider enacting a new penal provision to deal with mob violence and provide deterrent punishment to offenders.
The judgment authored by Chief Justice Misra for the Bench, also comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, said such law should be effective enough to instill a sense of fear in the perpetrators.
The court's order came on a batch of petitions, including one by social activist Tehseen S Poonawalla and Tushar Gandhi, seeking to curb violence by cow vigilante groups. Gandhi had also filed a contempt plea on some states, accusing them of not enforcing the earlier orders of the court. The apex court order is pertaining not only to cow vigilante violence but also regarding violence perpetrated by all vigilante groups.
The court said the growing numbness of the ordinary Indian to the frequent incidents of lynchings happening right before his eyes in a society based on rule of law is shocking.
Earier this month, the SC said that mob lynching is a crime no matter what the motive is and added that it is a law and order issue that is that is the responsibility of state governments. That is, the apex court said whether a lynching happens as a result of cow vigilantism or because people believe someone is a child abductor, it doesn't matter - lynching is a crime, period.
The apex court directed the Centre and state governments to file compliance reports with regards to the guidelines issued by it in four weeks, Live Law reported. The matter has been fixed for further hearing on 28 August.
On September 6 last year, the apex court had asked all states to take stern measures to stop violence in the name of cow protection, including appointment of senior police officers as nodal officer in every district within a week and acting promptly to check cow vigilantes from behaving like they are "law unto themselves".
The apex court had sought response from Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments on a plea seeking contempt action for not following its order to take stern steps to stop violence in the name of cow vigilantism.
Social media rumours about child-lifters have claimed several lives by mob lynching in Maharashtra. Just on Sunday, five people were lynched - despite police intervention. So far, there have been 13 incidents of lynching related to rumours circulated through WhatsApp about suspected child lifters and kidnappers, resulting in the murders of 27 people, in less than two months. Fake Whatsapp messages whip up a frenzy in minutes and before any sanity can prevail, innocents have been clobbered to death. Mobs are mobilised in seconds because the message has reached scores at the same time, giving real-time details of the so-called suspects.
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