New Delhi: While the Centre does not maintain data on lynchings in the country, it is mulling over two state-level Bills which deal with the issue, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told parliament on Tuesday.
The state legislatures of Manipur and Rajasthan have passed Bills that deal with lynching and they are yet to be cleared by the president.
In August this year, the Rajasthan state assembly passed the Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019. It provides for life imprisonment and a fine of between Rs 1 and 5 lakhs for those convicted in cases where mob lynching led to the victim’s death. In cases where the victim suffers grievous injuries, the Bill prescribes up to ten years of imprisonment and fines between Rs 25,000 and Rs 3,00,000.
The Manipur state assembly had passed the Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Bill in December last year. It recommends rigorous life imprisonment in cases where the lynching leads to death.
The Centre informed parliament that “the Bills so received are examined in consultation with the Central ministries concerned.”
The MHA examines Bills passed by state assemblies that are repugnant with central laws before they can get the president’s assent. The president is obliged to agree with the advice given by the council of ministers.
Central law unlikely
In August, reports suggested that the Centre is unlikely to enact a separate law to tackle mob lynching. This suggestion was among the slew of directions that the Supreme Court had issued in July 2018 to curb offences like mob violence and vigilantism in the name of cow protection.
“Horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be allowed to become a new norm and has to be curbed with iron hands,” the court had noted.
However, the Centre felt that existing laws were enough to combat lynching, but felt their enforcement is lacking. “There are enough laws to deal with lynchings; it is a matter of enforcement. The police need to be trained to ensure conviction in these cases,” an official said.
Supreme Court’s directions
The Centre was also asked whether it has given any directions or made observations on the enactment of laws on lynching. It said that following up on the July 2018 Supreme Court judgment, it has issued advisories to states to take measures to curb incidents of mob lynching. It also claimed that it has attempted to generate public awareness ‘to curb the menace of mob lynching’ through audio-visual mediums.
It has also directed service providers to take measures to curb the spread of ‘false news and rumours’ which have the potential to incite mob violence.
The SC had recommended that state governments should depute a police officer – at least of the rank of superintendent of police – as a nodal officer in charge of preventing mob violence in each district.
It had also said that states should set up special task forces to maintain intelligence reports on people who are considered likely to be involved in spreading false news and inciting mob violence.
In another question, the Centre was asked for data on the number of deaths due to mob lynching. To this, the MHA responded by saying, “The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not maintain data with respect to mob lynching. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs have issued advisories to States and UTs, from time to time, to maintain law and order and ensure that any person who takes law into his/her hand is punished promptly as per law.”