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Ahead of Supreme Court Hearing on Lynching, Rajnath Singh Meets Group of Ministers to Discuss Report

Sources told CNN-News18 that the Group of Ministers headed by Rajnath Singh has been briefed about the report compiled by the committee of secretaries on the need of a new law for lynching cases.

Arunima | CNN-News18Arunima24

Updated:September 5, 2018, 6:24 PM IST
Ahead of Supreme Court Hearing on Lynching, Rajnath Singh Meets Group of Ministers to Discuss Report
File photo of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. (PTI)

New Delhi: Two days before the Supreme Court hears a petition on lynching incidents across India, a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh met on Wednesday to deliberate on the report prepared by a panel to see if the country needs a new law to deal with the rising number of lynching cases.

Supreme Court had asked the Centre to consider if a new law is required to tackle incidents of mob violence. Sources told CNN-News18 that the GoM was briefed about the report compiled by the committee of secretaries.

"This was just the first meeting. No decision has been taken yet," a minister present in the GOM told CNN-News18.

Rajnath Singh chaired the meeting on Wednesday, which was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Union Road, Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari. Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot skipped the meeting.

The Centre along with the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Maharashtra are expected to tell the Supreme Court about the steps they have taken to tackle lynching incidents.

Sources said the Union government is likely to apprise the apex court of the decision taken to form a committee of secretaries and a GOM to study the issue.

"It is on the Prime Minister to ultimately decide what steps are to be taken. The GOM will consider the committee’s report and send its recommendations to the PM," an official told CNN-News18, when asked if the government is considering the introduction of a new law. The official added, "There are provisions in law, which allow the government to remove objectionable content and block websites that allow hate speeches and misinformation to spread.”

The committee of secretaries headed by union home secretary Rajiv Gauba includes secretaries of the Department of Justice, Legal Affairs, Legislative Department and Social Justice and Empowerment.

Sources told CNN-News18 that the panel interacted with top officials from Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the states that have seen maximum lynching cases. Other stakeholders like law enforcement agencies and petitioners before the Supreme Court were also consulted while also interacting with social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube.

As per officials, committee of secretaries told have told these social media platforms that there is a problem of lack of compliance, despite law enforcers having flagged off problematic posts. "One such issue was of law enforcers proactively looking at the cyberspace and taking preemptive action," the officer said.

He added, "When the State issues directions, there should be compliance and time-bound compliance."

The committee has also recommend that the country heads of the social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook be held accountable if they fail to comply with the directions of law enforcers.

| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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