Civil Society Comes Together To Draft 'Law' Against Mob Lynching

A voluntary organisation has demanded a judicial enquiry into the clash in Atali village in Ballabgarh and strict action against the culprits. (File photo)

A voluntary organisation has demanded a judicial enquiry into the clash in Atali village in Ballabgarh and strict action against the culprits. (File photo)

Manav Suraksha Kanoon (MaSuKa), which not only defines 'mob lynching', but also seeks to make lynching a non-bailable offence.


Debayan Roy

New Delhi: Even as Ballabgarh continues to boil after lynching of a 16-year-old boy on charges of being a beef eater, a group of prominent citizens has come together to draft what they wish should become a law, Manav Suraksha Kanoon (MaSuKa), which not only defines ‘mob lynching’, but also seeks to make lynching a non-bailable offence.

The civil society proposal seeks immediate suspension of the concerned Station House Officer or SHO of the area. MaSuKa defines mob, lynching, mob lynching, rumour mongering, hate, etc, among others.

Speaking to News18, core member of the National Campaign against Mob Lynching, Tehseen Poonawalla said, “Lynching has become the new norm and hence there was an immediate need of such a law.”

“We have proposed to make lynching a non-bailable offence and the punishment for the ones convicted under it would be life imprisonment. It also mandates that the concerned SHO of the area would have to be suspended forthwith until a time-bound judicial probe absolves him of charges. This provision has been laid out because if a mob of 100 people is entering an area and lynching someone, it cannot be without the consent of the concerned police officer of the area,” said Poonawalla.

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The draft document also has India-specific provisions dealing with the way mobs are created. “The document has been made India-specific where technology being used for rumour mongering has been taken into account. It specifies what a mob is and what it is not, as a peaceful protest against leaders, policies etc cannot be termed as a mob and tried for false charges,” said Poonawalla.

Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hegde, who is a member of the drafting committee, told News18 that “videographic evidence of survivors statements would also act as an evidence under this proposal.”

“In such cases of lynching, which is the explicit form of mobocracy, often the survivors live to tell the tale and their statements should be taken as evidence and the same has been prescribed,” said Hegde.

At present, any lynching case in the country gets covered under Section 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (causing voluntary hurt) 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.

However, the core members of the civil society grouping have suggested mob lynching requires a special legislation. “There were already laws on rape, but still Justice Verma committee submitted recommendations; we had laws tackling corruption but even then we ushered in the Lokpal legislation. Hence, even though the riot act and provisions of the IPC are present, lynching demands a new law,” said Poonawalla.

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The draft proposal also has provisions for a time-bound judicial enquiry, which should not take more than six months. Even compensation has been recommended for the victims’ families.

On the future course of action, Poonawalla said that all opposition parties had been informed about the proposal and most of them supported it. “Our demand is that the Prime Minister passes a law against mob lynching in Parliament,” said Poonawalla.

The draft proposal has been prepared by the National Campaign against Mob Lynching of columnist Tehseen Poonawalla, social activist Jignesh Mevani, former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union vice-president Shehla Rashid and the former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar.

The drafting committee includes Sanjay Hegde, a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court, Sadar Musharraf, JNU student Najeeb Ahmed’s sister, Anil Chamaria, a journalist and activist, Apoorvanand, a Delhi University professor, Sanam Wazir, campaigner at Amnesty International India, Nivedita Menon, a JNU professor, Rebecca John, a Senior Advocate, Manoj Jha, a professor at Delhi School of Social Work, V Geetha, a feminist author and publisher, and Swara Bhaskar, an actor.

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