Anti-Mob Lynching Bills


Bills passed against mob lynching in the past four years by at least four States have not been implemented with the Union government taking a view that lynching is not defined as a crime under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

What is Mob Lynching?

Mob lynching is an extreme act by a group of violent people attacking another person which sometimes leads to the informal execution of a person. India has witnessed mob lynching since centuries. Most of the victims were Dalits and Women. Single Women were branded as witches and Dalits were ill-treated because of their cast. The recent cases of Dalits lynching were Jhajjar, Khairlanji, and Una.

  • The word lynching in fact originated in the United States in the mid-18th century. 
  • Historians believe that the term was first used by planter Charles Lynch to describe extra-judicial authority assumed by private individuals like him.
  • It came to be applied over time to extra-judicial killings by crowds, most commonly of African-Americans in the late 19th century.

  • Types of Mob-lynching: Mob-Lynching based on the causes can be classified into five types. They are:

  • Communal based
  • Witchcraft
  • Honour killing
  • Bovine-related mob lynching
  • Suspicion of Child lifting
  • Theft cases

Reasons for cases of mob lynching in India

  • Mob Psychology: People have less fear of being punished when they act in groups as it’s harder to identify real culprits. Further, there is dispersion of responsibility and guilt unlike in individual action.
  • Political Patronage: In the competitive electoral politics, the culture of political mobilization based on social faultlines for polarization of electorate into votebanks and use of violence for garnering support and intimidating opponents, has gained strength.
    • Few elected representatives also sometimes come out in open defence of the attackers.
  • Administrative Failure: Given the state of the police and judiciary in the country, there is a wide-ranging perception that ‘culprits’ go unpunished, and that there is a chance that the accused in heinous crimes like rape, child lifting and cow-slaughter will go scot-free. Vigilantism is a consequence of this basic failure of the government in providing justice.
    • A recent report by Delhi-based NGO Common Cause and CSDS mentioned that, “35% of police personnel interviewed for the survey think it is natural for a mob to punish the “culprit” in cases of cow slaughter, and 43% think it is natural for a mob to punish someone accused of rape.”
  • Rumours on social media: Misinformation and propagandas spread through platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp. E.g. recent rumours regarding child lifters have incited many impulsive and unplanned acts of violence across the country. • Societal factors: The idea of the so-called form of ‘instant’ justice is immensely popular. Further, the sociopolitical framework of the country involves people with deep fissures and mistrust, prejudices and biases based on caste, religion etc.
  • No database to analyse trends: As per Ministry of Home Affairs there is no record keeping on public lynching. Thus, making it difficult to draw conclusions and possible solutions to the problem. Further, in the recently released NCRB report for the year 2017, the data collected under the sub-heads of mob lynching, killed ordered by Khap Panchayat and murder committed for religious reasons has been omitted.
  • Cattle Protection Laws: In certain state laws, there is a shifting of burden of proof on victims and consequently a presumption of guilt, which leads to filing of cases against the victims only. It leads to criminalization of certain professions such as that of transporters, butchers, leather workers, and the process itself ends up being the punishment in most cases.

Impact of mob lynching

  • Fuel communalism and casteism: As in most cases, victims are the most vulnerable people of society – nomadic tribes, religious minorities, lower castes etc. This is threat to secular fabric of the country as diverse as India.
  • Against human rights: The lynching by mob create an atmosphere where human beings are dehumanised, freedom of speech, expression and personal choices are endangered and plurality and diversity is not accepted.
  • Subverts rule of law: The process of adjudication takes place within the courts of justice, and not on the streets. A crime cannot be an answer to another crime. Mob lynching reflects the loss of trust in state capabilities in justice delivery.
  • Fear Psychosis: Terrorism kills far fewer people than traffic accidents, but we have the most stringent laws against terrorism because it causes more than just deaths. It strikes fear in the daily lives of people, bringing cities to a standstill. Events of lynching mean to punish someone in a manner that others will see as a warning and a lesson. Many lynchings are actually hate crimes where identity of the victims seems to be the real cause behind the killing
    • A study, by IndiaSpend, says that of the lynching deaths reported between 2010 and 2017, 84% were Muslims. Every such case strikes fear in the hearts of minorities in India.
  • Economic Impact: Tougher laws on cow slaughter, transportation of cattle, and mob attacks by cow protection groups have disrupted not just the cattle trade and the rural agricultural economy, but also leather and meat export industries linked to farming and dairy sectors.
    • Management of unproductive cattle puts huge financial strain on farmers. Thus, animal markets aggregators become an indispensable institution for disposal of unproductive animals. But, in wake of mob attacks by cow vigilantes, such businesses have been adversely impacted.
    • Mob vigilantism has seriously hurt the livelihood of nomadic herders (e.g. Banjara nomadic community in Rajasthan).

Supreme Court observations on mob lynching

In Tehseen Poonawalla vs Union of India, 2018, Supreme Court condemned recent incidents of lynching and mob violence against Dalits and minority community members as “horrendous acts of mobocracy”, and asked Parliament to pass law establishing lynching as a separate offence with punishment. Such a law should be effective enough to instill a sense of fear in the perpetrators

  • SC said that such incidents “threaten rule of law and the country’s social fabric.”
  • 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.
  • It is also the obligation of the Centre and the States to ensure that “nobody takes the law into his hands nor become a law into himself”.

SC guidelines on Mob Lynching:

  1. There shall be a “separate offence” for lynching and the trial courts must ordinarily award maximum sentence upon conviction of the accused person to set a stern example in cases of mob violence.
  2. The state governments will have to designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
  3. The state governments need to identify districts, sub-divisions and villageswhere instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past.
  4. The nodal officers shall bring to the notice of the DGP about any inter-district co-ordination issues for devising a strategy to tackle lynching and mob violence related issues.
  5. Every police officer shall ensure to disperse the mob that has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise.
  6. Central and the state governments shall broadcast on radio, television and other media platforms about the serious consequences of mob lynching and mob violence.
  7. Despite the measures taken by the State Police, if it comes to the notice of the local police that an incident of lynching or mob violence has taken place, the jurisdictional police station shall immediately lodge an FIR.
  8. The State Governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme in the light of the provisions of Section 357A of CrPC within one month from the date of this judgment.
  9. If a police officer or an officer of the district administration fails to fulfill his duty, it will be considered an act of deliberate negligence.

  • Section 223(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 contains the provision for persons being charged for an offense jointly when they are accused of the same offence committed in the course of the same transaction which is applicable on two or more people.
  • The Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 also has some proximate sections related to hate speech and hate crimes under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 153B (imputation, assertions prejudicial to national integration). 

  • Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code provides punishment for acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention, where each person is equally liable for the act.
  • Section 120B (criminal conspiracy), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons) and 143/149 (unlawful assembly) of Indian Penal Code are some other provisions related to offences against public tranquility.
  • Punishment for lynching may come under Section 302 (murder), 304(culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 307 (attempt to murder) etc.

Government initiatives to deal with this:

  • Creation of Nodal Officers: Central government has asked states to appoint a nodal officer in each district to prevent the incidents of mob violence and lynching.
    • As per advisory from the Home Ministry, the nodal officer should be a superintendent of police-level officers.
    • It has also asked to set up a special task force to procure intelligence reports about the people who are likely to commit such crimes or who are involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news.

  • Creation of Two High Kevel Committees: Two high-level committees were constituted by the Central government to suggest ways and legal framework to effectively deal with incidents of mob violence and lynching.
  • Awareness 
    • The government through audio-visual media has also generated public awareness to curb the menace of mob lynching. 
      • The government has also sensitized the service providers to take steps to check the propagation of false news and rumours having the potential to incite mob violence and lynching.
  • States Law: 
    • The Jharkhand Assembly passed the Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021, which aims at providing “effective protection” of constitutional rights and the prevention of mob violence in the state.
      • The Bill defines lynching as “any act or series of acts of violence or death or aiding, abetting or attempting an act of violence or death, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other ground”.

Do we need for a separate law?

The need of a separate law stems due to the following reasons:

  • Enforce Constitutional provisions: Lynching based on identity discriminates against a whole community and violates Article 14 and Article 15 of the Constitution of India.
    • Deterrence: A dedicated law would help create enough deterrence against such heinous crime.

However, some experts feel that the lynch mob is a law and order challenge and there are enough provisions in IPC related to murder, attempt to murder, acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention etc. to tackle such menace if implemented strongly and effectively. National Campaign Against Mob Lynching (NCAML) released a draft of a proposed law, MASUKA, or the Manav Suraksha Kanoon (a law to protect human beings).


The main reason for this problem is the lack of education, lack of self-education, growing xenophobia and prejudice against certain castes and communitiesDespite the guidelines issued by the supreme court majority of state governments have failed to enact stricter laws against mob lynching. To tackle this serious issue the state government shall coordinate with the central government to comply with the guidelines as directed by the supreme court.

Source: The Hindu

You can find many articles on ACTS AND AMENDMENTS (part of GS II) in our website. Go through these articles share with your friends and post your views in comment section.

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