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In first meet, government panel on lynching discusses need to frame new law

According to sources, in its first meeting, the committee members were explained the apex court’s order, and suggestions were invited from all stakeholders

Written by Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi |
Updated: July 28, 2018 10:24:35 am
In first meet, govt panel on lynching discusses need to frame new law Villager with their cattle in Kolgaon village area. A committee headed by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba is framing new legislation to prevent incidents of lynching. (Express Photo/Gajendra Yadav)

Framing of a new legislation to prevent incidents of lynching was one of the suggestions made during the first meeting of a committee headed by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Friday, it is learnt. The committee, formed on Monday on the directions of the Supreme Court, is likely to meet again on Saturday and take up cases of lynchings reported from across the country.

According to sources, in its first meeting, the committee members were explained the apex court’s order, and suggestions were invited from all stakeholders. One key component of the deliberations was to make changes in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), a source with knowledge of the developments said.

Under Section 223 (a) of CrPC there are legal provision to “prosecute persons accused of the same offence committed in the course same transaction.” But legal experts say the provision falls far short for prosecuting lynch mobs.

Also read | Mobocracy can’t be the new normal, get a law to punish lynching: SC to Govt

The committee is also likely to recommend that those arrested on charge of mob violence should not be granted bail, sources said.

In Saturday’s meeting, the panel is likely to take up instances of rumours on child-lifting and cattle smuggling, the two main causes reported behind incidents of mob violence, according to officials.

The terms of reference of the committee include recommending to Parliament the proposal to create a “separate offence for lynching and provide adequate punishment for the same”.

Besides Gauba, other members of the committee are Union Secretaries for the Departments of Justice, Legal Affairs, Legislative Department, and Social Justice and Empowerment.

In the meeting, one official is learnt to have expressed reservation for the need of a separate law to deal with such cases.

According to sources, the committee may also suggest forming a Central fund to pay compensation to mob violence victims in the light of the provisions under Section 357A of CrPC. The financial assistance can be paid by the state government under a Central scheme, it was reportedly discussed.

The second meeting is likely to discuss, among other issues, this need for amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to rule out the possibility of a standalone law on mob lynching, a source said. The committee will also deliberate on the need to further strengthen the framework relating to social media to ensure that rumours are checked, the source added.

The committee is expected to submit its recommendations in four weeks to a Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, for further examination. The GoM includes External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Social Justice and Empowerment minister Thawar Chand Gehlot as members.

The GoM will submit its report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Thirty-one deaths due to lynching have been reported from nine states in the last one year. The most recent case was reported from Alwar district of Rajasthan, where a man named Akbar Khan was beaten up, leading to his death, allegedly by a group of villagers over suspicion that he was a cow smuggler.

Earlier this week, following the Supreme Court’s directives to check incidents of lynching, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued advisories to states and Union Territories. The Centre asked them to appoint an officer in each district at the level of a Superintendent of Police, set up a special task force to gather intelligence, and closely monitor social media contents to prevent mob attacks on suspicion of being child-lifters or cattle smugglers.

In its communique to states and UTs, the MHA had stated, “Incidents of violence and lynching by mobs in some parts of the country fuelled by various kinds of rumours and unverified news such as child lifting, theft, cattle smuggling etc, are a matter of serious concerns. Such instances of persons taking the law in their own hands run against the basic tenets of the rule of law. All state governments, UT administrations and their law enforcement agencies are requested to implement the directions of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit.”

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