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Panel Formed to Tackle Lynching Submits Report, Remains Tight-lipped on New Law

A group of ministers, headed by home minister Rajnath Singh, will now study the recommendations of the secretary-level panel and forward it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Arunima | CNN-News18Arunima24

Updated:August 29, 2018, 7:48 PM IST
Panel Formed to Tackle Lynching Submits Report, Remains Tight-lipped on New Law
News18 Creative

The high-powered four member committee formed by the central government to suggest ways and legal framework needed to tackle cases of mob lynching has submitted its report to the group of ministers.

The panel, led by union home secretary Rajiv Gauba, gave the report to the second panel last week, sources told News18, but remained tight-lipped about the findings and the recommendations of the committee.

The group of ministers, headed by home minister Rajnath Singh, will now study the recommendations and forward it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Centre had formed the two committees last month after a Supreme Court directive.

While officials refused to confirm if the committee recommended a new law, a source indicated that the existing provisions of IPC and CRPC can be used to tackle mob violence.

“There are provisions in law which allow the government to remove objectionable content and block such websites that allow hate speeches and misinformation to spread,” the official told News18.

The union government had earlier told the Supreme Court that no new law was required to punish lynch mobs.

Talking about the need to fix accountability on those who share malicious rumours on social media, an official who was part of the committee said that the government has to balance privacy and surveillance.

"Cyber space is the new arena of interaction. It’s a new domain. The vigilance is also new. But there is also question of privacy and surveillance. We have to find a balance," the official said.

Sources said that the committee that had members from ministry of home and the departments of justice, legal affairs, legislative department and social justice interacted with officials from Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra - states that saw maximum lynching cases.

Other stakeholders like law enforcement agencies, petitioners before the Supreme Court were also consulted. But the majority of time, they said, was given to interacting with social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube.

"We have stepped up our engagements with social media platforms," an official said. During the interactions, the official said, the issue of time-bound compliance and pro-active weeding out of problematic posts came up.

Officials said that pro-activeness on part of police to tackle social media misinformation and holding social media platforms accountable has been recommended.

"One of the issues was that law enforcers should proactively look at cyber space and take preemptive action," the officer said.

The data presented to the committee showed almost all social media platforms from YouTube to Facebook to WhatsApp and Twitter had less than 50% compliance when police pointed out problematic posts to them.

The committee has also suggested that social media platforms can employ NGOs to help proactively surf the net and detect problematic posts.

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